Tie leaves Wolves looking for answers

If late-season inspiration was what they were after, the South Kitsap girl’s soccer team succeeded beautifully.

Needing a win over Olympic to keep pace with Gig Harbor atop the Narrows League Bridge Division race, the Wolves turned in an uncharacteristically lackadaisical defensive performance Thursday afternoon and limped out of Silverdale Stadium with a 1-1 tie and more than a handful of questions marks regarding their playoff future.

The question isn’t whether the Wolves, 10-0-4 overall and 8-0-4 in league, will be going to the post-season; they’re a lock for one of the top two spots from the Bridge Division. Instead, the concerns are about their mettle after what amounts to almost a loss in their eyes.

“We’re still going to the playoffs, we’re still undefeated,” South coach Eric Bergeson said. “It’s not like this is a massive setback.”

It may not be a massive setback but it’s a setback nonetheless.

Seemingly in control throughout most of the game, a few mental breakdowns defensively opened up chances for the Trojans, and they made the most of them. The tie will almost definitely put the Wolves in second place and force a cross-over game with either Stadium or Olympia on Oct. 29 to decide the third and fourth seeds into the West Central District.

“It’s more important for us to get better, and I think it was an excellent opportunity for our defense to become more humble and understand that it hasn’t been coming for free,” Bergeson said. “It’s something they’ve had to fight for and earn, and I think they thought this would just be a cruise. They were not prepared and I’ll take the responsibility as a coach for not preparing them.”

The Wolves, who beat Olympic 3-0 earlier this year, looked to be on a similar course with their offensive play, especially early.

Following nice ball movement, South had a couple of solid looks in the first half and finally put one in four minutes into the second half when freshman Tori Fairweather headed in a shot that rebounded off the crossbar, giving her her fourth goal in as many varsity games.

But the Wolves’ defense broke down and allowed the Trojans to sneak in a goal 10 minutes later.

“Let’s hope that’s something that inspires us to get better for the postseason,” Bergeson said, “turning a negative into a positive.

“We didn’t play a very intelligent game,” he added. “That being said, we couldn’t have played any harder. They played their hearts out and I love them for that. Everyone made the most of their minutes and we got several looks at the goal.”

They just couldn’t convert like they’ve been able to all year long.

Earlier in the week, the Wolves had beaten Bremerton 5-0 behind two goals each from Fairweather and Kaileigh Westermann and a solo shot by Kylie Balstad.

South closes out the regular season with its final home match on Monday against North Kitsap and a Wednesday road trip to Shelton.

“We definitely have some things to work on,” Bergeson said. “I praise my team’s effort. They couldn’t have worked any harder. The second half, I thought they played beautiful soccer.”

South’s junior varsity recorded a pair of wins last week, beating Bremerton 7-0 and downing Olympic 6-0.

Coach Jason Shdo said the offensive play of Sammy Gallegos, Caitlin Daniels, Korina Kaio-Maddox, Alyssa Nystrom and Nicole Padmos meshed nicely with defenders Kristin Hunter, Courtney Mayo, Kayla Hardman and Ally Johnson.

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