Wolves upset Pasco to earn first-ever state soccer title

South Kitsap
South Kitsap's Diego de la Cruz and Pasco defender converge on the ball during the Wolves 2-1 victory in the Washington State 4A soccer championship match on Saturday night.
— image credit: Jeff Rhodes/Staff Photo

The South Kitsap High School boys soccer team's second trip in three years to the Washington State 4A finals had a happier ending than the last time.

And it didn't even take a shootout.

The Wolves topped previously undefeated Pasco 2-1 on Saturday night at Harry E. Lang Stadium in Lakewood to capture the school's first-ever state soccer title.

Pasco, which ends the season 23-1, had been ranked as high as No. 2 nationally, but SK Coach Michael Krug doesn't consider his team's win an upset.

"On paper, it may be an upset," he said, "but that's why they play the games on the field."

South had earned a spot in the finals with a shootout win on Friday night against Marysville-Pilchuck. It wouldn't come down to that in the finals.

Senior forward Brent Ricigliano got SK on the board first with a goal in the 32nd minute, and junior midfielder Dixon Hammer added an insurance score in the 57th minute.

It was a margin the Wolves would need as the Bulldogs responded by cutting the lead in half four minutes later on a goal following a corner kick by sophomore forward Richard Renteria.

Pasco kept up relentless pressure for the remainder of the game, including a shot at the 15-minute mark that would have found the back of the net had not SK goal keeper Daniel Lathrop swatted it away with a diving effort.

Lathrop had preserved the Wolves' win the previous night by smothering Kent-Pilchuck's third try in a five-kick shootout.

The Bulldogs came in with a deeper squad and substituted liberally during the game in hopes of keeping their players fresh for the finish. Krug, meanwhile, stuck pretty much with his starters the entire game.

"I figured I'd ride that horse 'til it dropped," he said. "Fortunately, it never did."

SK, in its first -- and last -- campaign under Krug, previously reached the finals in 2006 under then-Coach Eric Bergeson, who resigned following the 2008 season.

Krug, who coached many of the Wolves' best players during his time with Westsound FC, has already announced he will return to club soccer next season.

"At some point in the future, I would love to come back and coach at the high school level," Krug said. "But for the time being, I have other things I want to accomplish in club soccer."

SK will graduate 10 seniors from this year's team, which finishes with a record of 15-3-1.

South Kitsap 2, Pasco 1

First half—1, SK, Brent Ricigliano, 32nd.

Second half—2, SK, Dixon Hammer (Justin Moore), 57th. 3, P, Richard Renteria, 60th.

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