SK excited about moving into the post-Bergeson era

Coach: Michael Krug, first season.

Key returners: D Jesse Askew, sr.; MF Nico de la Cruz, jr.; GK Daniel Lathrop, sr.; F Justin Moore, sr.; F Brent Ricigliano, sr.; D Jason Skolnik, sr.

Key departures: D Bryan Heath, graduated; MF Quincy Lyman, graduated; D Ryan Myskens, graduated; C/MF Jordan Thomas, graduated.

Forward is a good starting point for South Kitsap’s boys soccer team.

The position features perhaps not only the Wolves’ best player, but maybe the top soccer player on the West Sound.

After scoring 12 goals last season, Justin Moore is back for his senior season at South. The Wolves open their season tonight against Foss.

“When it comes to the game, he works harder than anyone,” said coach Michael Krug, who also had Moore on his Westsound FC ’90 club team. “When we traveled around the country playing, he was fastest player on the pitch.”

Moore, who has signed to play at Western Washington University next season, said he features more than just breakaway speed this year.

“I feel like I’ve grown a lot,” he said. “Maybe not as much from a speed standpoint, but technically and my understanding of the game. I know what to expect.”

His counterpart at forward is classmate Brent Ricigliano, who took a pass from Moore to score in the 66th minute in a 2-1 loss against Bellarmine Prep in last season’s league-championship contest. The bookends are joined in the midfield by junior Nico de la Cruz, who had one goal and five assists, and senior Jason Skolnik.

“I’ve with Brent for a long time,” Moore said. “And Nico is an exciting player.”

Krug takes the reins from Eric Bergeson, who resigned after guiding the Wolves to five state-playoff appearances in 11 seasons. Krug, who also guided South’s girls soccer team in the fall, coached a handful of Wolves on his Westsound FC ’90 club team.

“Mike’s a great coach,” Moore said. “Mike’s more fundamentals and soccer. Mike is soccer — he has a great understanding of the game.”

Moore doesn’t think the coaching transition will affect South, which finished second in the Narrows League at 8-1-1 and was 12-3-2 overall in 2008. He is more concerned with how the Wolves will develop after the graduation of several players. Thomas was a co-captain with Moore last year, while Bryan Heath and Ryan Myskens helped South allowed just seven goals.

“We lost a lot of guys, but I think we’re coming together,” he said. “We just need to play together more and I think we’ll mesh.”

Krug said he isn’t as worried about the team’s regular-season performance, noting that the top six teams in the Narrows advance to the playoffs. He took a similar approach during the fall, and the Wolves’ girls team won a pair of shootouts to advance to state for the first time since 2005.

“It doesn’t do any good to come out 8-0 and fall apart at regionals or whatever,” Krug said.

Despite South’s regular-season success a year ago, it was upset by Todd Beamer 2-1 at districts. The Titans were only the No. 6 seed out of the South Puget Sound League.

“I would have loved to go on because I thought we had a really strong team,” Moore said. “But I figure we can make an even stronger run this year.”

Krug likes what he calls a balance on the roster. Senior Jesse Askew, a first-team all-Narrows League selection last season, returns at defender in addition to junior Gavin Klein and senior Kaleb Craig. Goalkeeper And Daniel Lathrop, who is athletic enough that Bergeson played him at forward a few times, is a returning starter.

“I feel good about the team,” Krug said. “Our goal is to make a run at state. We’ve got the tools.”

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