Three captains sharing one goal

Three distinctive personalities. Three different paths chosen. One common goal.

That may be the best way to sum up the soccer year for South Kitsap captains Nick Boone, Corey Kelmel and Chris Lewis.

And it will be those three leading the way today as the Wolves, 9-4-2, try to qualify for the Class 4A state tournament with a win over Tahoma at 4 p.m. at Sumner Stadium in the West-Central District tournament.

“They’re just outstanding young men, terrific young men to work with,” South coach Eric Bergeson said. “They’re very classy and terrific ambassadors for the sport in the hallways at South Kitsap. All three of them, their teachers speak very highly of them. But in a different perspective, they are all different.”

Boone and Kelmel were named captains at the start of the season and led the team to a second-place finish in the Narrows League Bridge Division. Lewis was named the team’s third captain, something Bergeson has done for the past few years, midway through. And all three have meshed nicely.

“I think with all three of us as captains, I think this is the best trio we could have,” Lewis said. “Corey is always out there showing people how it needs to be done. Nick makes sure everyone sticks together while I run everyone down.”

Boone’s path to senior captain began last year when he split time in goal with Sam Canfield. For the first half of the year, the pair split halves of each game before Canfield was named starting goalie right before the playoff run.

But this year, it’s been all Boone, and he hasn’t disappointed. Entering today’s playoff game, Boone has allowed just 14 goals in 15 games with six shutouts.

“I lead by example. I find it hard to get after guys,” Boone said. “I go out there and play hard. Having that time to kind of wean into it, I was more comfortable. It’s been nice to play the whole game.”

Besides being a solid goaltender, Boone is also a solid student, ranking in the top 50 of the SK graduating class.

“He’s the kind of kid that does it on and off the field,” Bergeson said. “He has a great mind and a great heart and is a fine leader.”

Kelmel has always been in the middle of success, it seems. He is a member of FC United, a Tacoma-based club soccer team that placed second in the nation last year.

But his ability to get better each year has made an impression on Bergeson.

“I would argue (he is) the most improved player I’ve ever coached,” Bergeson said. “Honestly, from start to finish, he's improved more consistently and thoroughly than maybe any player I’ve ever coached.”

Kelmel, a forward who has accounted for plenty of scores this year, said he likes to lead by example as well but likes they way things have worked out.

“I think it’s good how we have two captains in the middle and one from the back,” Kelmel said. “The one in the back can start the message and we can help send it forward.”

The talking part is Lewis’ job — one he relishes.

“I think I run the guys down a little bit,” Lewis said. “I’m a lot harsher on them than (Kelmel or Boone).”

Keleml said he thought Lewis was a lock for one of the captain positions at the beginning of the year but, as it turned out, Lewis was added later.

Lewis is, in Bergeson’s words, the most tenacious and physical presence on the field for the Wolves. And he is the most vocal, unafraid to speak his mind to anyone.

That, along with the work ethic he showed throughout the year in the classroom, got him named the team’s third captain midway through the year.

“We’ve been through a lot together,” Bergeson said. “We’ve endured plenty of things together. Chris is more than a player to me, without a doubt. He’s more like a younger brother.”

Lewis has battled all kinds of adversity this season, from grades to an ankle injury that sidelined him for two weeks, to a high fever he had in last week’s Narrows League Tournament.

“I think some of the things that held us back last year were team unity-type stuff,” Lewis said. “We are definitely way more unified this year than we were the year before. We all work together way better.”

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