Coaches often speak about performing well when it matters most.
South Kitsap’s Cory Vartanian can only hope that is the case after the Wolves’ 7-1 win Tuesday night against Olympia in Class 4A Narrows League play at Joe Knowles Stadium.
The victory was significant for South (5-5-1 overall, 4-4-1 league) as it enters Tuesday’s game against Bellarmine Prep (4-5-1, 3-4-1). Both teams are vying for the league’s fourth — and final — playoff berth entering next month’s West Central District Tournament next month.
“Hopefully, we’re jelling at the right time,” said Vartanian, whose program has not defeated Bellarmine since 1987. “Each and every game right now is almost a playoff game for us. As a first-year coach, welcome to the Narrows League. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
They accepted one against the Bears (4-6-1, 2-6-1). The Wolves, who swept Olympia for the second time in the last three years, scored their most goals in a match since defeating Foss 10-0 on March 17, 2010.
South needed just eight minutes to take a 3-0 lead. After an own goal, midfielders Keiran Prince and Aaron Weathington both scored.
“Keiran and Aaron both stood out,” Vartanian said. “They play our system very well. Their performance is the overall factor of hard work paying off.”
The Bears looked like they had an opportunity to recover when Jayce Kemp scored on a penalty kick in the 21st minute to ruin goalkeeper Jaxom Beverage’s shutout bid. But the Wolves would not allow the momentum to shift.
“We just had to reenergize,” Vartanian said. “I think that sparked us.”
South closed at the first half with goals by Kristian Hernandez in the 26th before Weathington and Joey Starr each scored in the final two minutes to give the Wolves a 6-1 halftime advantage.
One byproduct of that was Vartanian was able to empty his bench with about 20 minutes remaining.
“Their hard work just paid off by getting into the game,” he said. “It’s always good to get those role players in and get them experience.”
South has just three regular-season games remaining. After Tuesday’s home finale versus the Lions, the Wolves play May 2 at Gig Harbor and May 7 at Yelm. While Vartanian called the win against Olympia “huge,” he said South has to maintain a high level of play to compete for a playoff position.
“We have every opportunity to get that fourth spot,” he said. “We know that and we’re going to fight for it.”
At South Kitsap 7, Olympia 1
First half-1, South Kitsap, own goal, 3rd minute; 2, South Kitsap, Keiran Prince, 5th; 3, Olympia, Jayce Kemp (penalty kick), 21st; 4, South Kitsap, Aaron Weathington (Prince), 8th; 5, South Kitsap, Kristian Hernandez, 26th; 6, South Kitsap, Weathington, 38th; 7, South Kitsap, Joey Starr (Tyler Meyer), 39th.
Second half-8, South Kitsap, Andy Hollis, 77th.