Soccer: Bellarmine bests South Kitsap again

“Schoolboy errors.”

It is a phrase often uttered by James Ritchie as he coaches at Olympic College and the Kitsap Pumas.

But the first-year South Kitsap coach had to catch himself before he uttered it Tuesday night. It was a thought that came to mind, particularly during the first half, as the Wolves lost 3-2 against Bellarmine Prep in the Narrows League playoffs at Mount Tahoma High School.

The loss means South (9-5-2) enters the West Central District Tournament as the No. 4 seed out of the Narrows League. It will face the South Puget Sound League’s No. 3 at 11 a.m. Saturday at Art Crate Field in Spanaway.

“It’s always going to be tough now,” Ritchie said. “If the boys come out ready to play, we’ll compete. We’ve competed with everyone.”

Ritchie’s thoughts remained on Bellarmine (13-3-1), which defeated the Wolves by one goal for the second time this year. South appeared to have the first match won on April 26, but the Lions scored goals in the 68th, 70th and 72nd minutes en route to a 5-4 win.

The Wolves never led during the rematch, but that does not mean Ritchie felt his team was any less deserving.

“When you genuinely believe you should’ve got something, it is frustrating,” he said. “I feel bad for them because at times it was just mental lapses.”

South’s problems began early this time. Senior goalkeeper Nick Henry appeared to stop a shot by midfielder Landon Gauthier, but the ball went through his hands and into the goal to give Bellarmine a 1-0 lead in the third minute.

“Nick made a mistake,” Ritchie said. “He took his eye off the ball. But Nick’s had a fantastic season and has been absolutely brilliant.”

The Wolves tied the match in the 30th on a penalty kick by sophomore midfielder Diego de la Cruz-Aceves, but the Lions regained the advantage, 2-1, with just a minute left in the first half when forward Alex Vogt beat Henry in a one-on-one situation.

Ritchie felt that putting Vogt in that position was a microcosm of the first half.

“We killed ourselves with silly errors,” he said.

The beginning of the second half was not much better as defender Eric Schacht scored in the 45th.

But even with a 3-1 deficit, South never appeared finished. Senior midfielder Nico de la Cruz scored two minutes later to bring the score to its final.

Despite that, the Wolves had other opportunities. De la Cruz-Aceves’ shot was inches left of the goalpost in the 75th and De la Cruz had a shot saved by diving goalkeeper Bryce Leach four minutes later.

“Their keeper pulled off a great save,” Ritchie said.

He was happy with the end of the match and feels South can duplicate its 2009 performance when it also was swept by Bellarmine and still won the state championship.

“The way we finished the game, we can win the tournament,” Ritchie said. “I know we can.”

Narrows League Tournament

At Mount Tahoma High School

Bellarmine Prep 3, South Kitsap 2

First half: 1, Bellarmine Prep, Landon Gauthier, third minute; 2, South Kitsap, Diego de la Cruz-Aceves, 30th; 3, Bellarmine Prep, Alex Vogt, 39th.

4, Bellarmine Prep, Eric Schacht, 45th; 5, South Kitsap, Nico de la Cruz, 47th.

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