OLYMPIA — Experience was the mantra entering the season.
But it was a freshman who made the most significant play during South Kitsap’s 1-0 win against Olympia on Tuesday night at Ingersoll Stadium.
Of course, a veteran aided it. The Wolves (2-0-1 overall, 2-0-1 league) scored in the 16th minute when Kristian Hernandez took a perfectly positioned kick by junior Aaron Weathington on the sideline and put it into the net.
“Aaron put it near post perfectly,” South coach Cory Vartanian said. “It was a great goal.”
It also helped the Wolves move past the Bears (1-1-1) into sole possession of second place in Class 4A Narrows. That did not come easy as both teams mounted multiple attacks. Olympia had goal opportunities during the first half and narrowly missed tying the contest in the 73rd when Chris Sutton’s shot bounced off the right post.
“It was a near-post run,” Vartanian said. “Luckily no one put a foot on it.”
Despite some pressure applied by the Bears, Vartanian was happy with how his team responded.
“We got caught in some transitions — some counterattacks — early on, but we cleaned it up,” he said. “We finished the game strong.”
Perhaps no one more so than senior goalkeeper Jaxom Beverage, who earned his first shutout of the year.
“Jaxom had some nice saves,” Vartanian said. “I thought he communicated really well in the back.”
He also was excited about how the Wolves handled the wet FieldTurf surface on the offensive end.
“I thought we possessed pretty well considering the surface plays very fast, especially when it’s wet outside,” he said.
The victory marked the third consecutive year South has earned a win at Olympia.
“It is a tough place to win,” Vartanian said. “Olympia is a great soccer program and is a great school athletically.”
For Vartanian, it also marked the first win he witnessed. He missed the first two contests last week for undisclosed reasons. On Friday, athletic director Ed Santos said he could not confirm that Vartanian would return. Santos said Monday that he had no knowledge about the circumstances surrounding Vartanian’s absence.
Vartanian provided little clarity about it.
“My situation was personal,” he said. “It was handled internally and we’re moving forward.”
Vartanian, who was named coach Feb. 20, said the situation has been resolved and he won’t have any further absences.
“No worries,” he said. “I’m here to stay. I’m very glad to be back for the boys.”
South Kitsap 1, at Olympia
First half-1, South Kitsap, Kristian Hernandez (Aaron Weathington), 16th minute.