Wolves overcome weather, themselves to advance to state

For the South Kitsap girls soccer team, Saturday was a day to experience some highs and some lows and some really bad weather.

The highs came from an offensive explosion that has been missing come playoff time, the lows were another shoddy performance by its defense and the weather was just plain bad. But in the end, the Wolves punched their ticket for a fifth-straight trip to the Class 4A state playoffs with a 4-3 win over Beamer High at Mount Tahoma Stadium.

The win sent the Wolves, 13-1-4, into a first-round game against Jackson High late Tuesday night in Everett. The winner of that game will face the winner of the Skyline-Auburn Riverside game this weekend in the state quarterfinal round. The loser is done for the year.

After last week’s debacle in the Narrows League title game, a 6-1 loss to Bellarmine Prep, South needed something good to happen. They got just what they were looking for.

The cold, rainy weather didn’t stop the Wolves from jumping on top quickly, and doing it in a spectacular fashion. Kylie Balstad got things going with a throw-in at mid-field that Brown took toward the middle of the field, flicking a nice pass to Mikayla Shdo who toed the ball over to Penn who put the Wolves up with a quick blast.

“We came out and we wanted this one a lot,” senior captain Cassie Brown said. “It was really important to us to (get on top early).”

Penn made it 2-0 off an assist from freshman Tori Fairweather and South was on its way.

“Both of those goals were a direct result of our game plan,” South coach Eric Bergeson said. “We worked on some things and they went out and executed it to get the lead.”

But at that point, Bergeson said, his team abandoned the plan and resorted back to some old habits of kicking and running instead of passing.

“(With a 2-0 lead) we went back to a bad habit or rocking back on our heels, hoping it would stand up,” Bergeson said. “There were times when I felt like we stopped battling and hoped that the 2-0 game would stand up.”

It didn’t as Beamer tied the game with a pair of goals in a 15-minute span.

But Wolves picked up their intensity once again and jumped back out to a two-goal lead after scores from Cassie Brown and Erin Carpenter.

“Everyone had their heads in the game,” Penn said. “Everyone played like they wanted to win.”

Beamer pulled back within a goal with 12 minutes left in the game, sparking some bad memories from the Bellarmine game. In its first 16 games of the year, South allowed just five goals. In two postseason games, opponents have ripped nine balls past the South defense.

“What a great job the girls did going back to the game plan,” Bergeson said. “They had to calm down, which they did – we all did, and go back out there and take care of the game. And for them to do that, in that manor, was really impressive for our girls.

“We’re going to have to battle through that complacency and be more assertive, especially on the defensive end,” Bergeson said. “I need senior captains to make plays, not wait around for someone else to.”

Although the defense has allowed a lot of goals over the last two games, Bergeson said he has complete confidence in his goalie, C.J. Balstad.

“I thought C.J. was absolutely nails and she had to put up with some defense that is going to have to improve to help her out,” Bergeson said. “No question about it, we’re going to have to do more to protect our goalie.”

South Kitsap 4, Todd Beamer 3

First half - 1. SK, Kelsey Penn (Mikayla Shdo), 7th minute; 2. Penn (Tori Fairweather), 25th; 3. TB, Jordan Salisbury, 33rd.

Second half — 4, TB, Jessica Hunley (Amanda Claunch), 44th; 5, SK, Cassie Brown (penalty kick), 47th; 6, SK, Erin Carpenter (Brown), 68th; 7, TB, Brittany Orr (free kick), 68th.

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