Sports

Soccer: Beamer gets its revenge as South Kitsap sees season end

Just call it the process of elimination.

For a third consecutive year, South Kitsap and Todd Beamer met in the West Central District Tournament facing that prospect.

That scenario favored the Titans for the second time in three seasons as they won 2-0 to end the Wolves’ hopes of defending their Class 4A state title Saturday at Spanaway’s Art Crate Field.

Coach James Ritchie said his team’s loss followed a similar pattern as others this year. South, which finished with a 9-6-2 record, only lost twice by more than one goal. Ritchie said the team’s problems stem from mental errors more so than effort, which he called outstanding.

“All of the tactics in the world don’t help if the little things are happening,” he said. “I’m really disappointed. I feel like this came to a premature end.”

Ritchie felt his team put itself in a tougher position when it lost against Stadium and Bellarmine Prep in the Narrows League playoffs. That left the Wolves with the league’s No. 4 seed, while Todd Beamer (13-2-3) advanced as the South Puget Sound League’s third team.

“We had chances to go in there and make it more solid and we never achieved that,” Ritchie said. “It’s sore. I feel bad for the seniors because they deserve to keep going.”

But junior Ugo Okoli, who had a goal and an assist to help the Titans upset South in 2008, seemed determined to prevent that. He assisted on sophomore Austin Sweeney’s goal in the 19th minute.

“We weren’t really thinking about them being state champions,” said Okoli, whose team lost in a shootout against the Wolves in 2009. “They beat us last year and we just had to beat them this year.”

South switched to a 3-3-4 late in the second half in an effort to score, but instead Okoli became open and beat goalkeeper Nick Henry in the 78th.

“We needed a goal and they scored,” Ritchie said. “That’s just the nature of the beast when you try something like that.”

The Wolves’ best scoring opportunities seemed to come late in the first half when sophomore Diego de la Cruz narrowly missed shots in the 37th and 38th.

“In the last 10 minutes of the first half we put a lot of pressure on them,” Ritchie said. “We had a couple of chances that didn’t go in.”

Senior Austin Arper, who finished with a team-best 19 goals this year for South, missed a cross from junior Dallas Brewster in the 71st. Arper said he was diagnosed with tendonitis in his right Achilles tendon after the league tournament.

“It’s tough because every time I go to accelerate, it’s nagging on me,” he said, adding that it is more problematic playing on turf. “I had some opportunities — I was trying to fight through the pain.”

Both Arper and Ritchie felt the Wolves had chances to score, but just could not convert. And both agreed that was a reoccurring theme.

“For some reason this year it seems that the soccer gods haven’t been with us,” Ritchie said. “Just when we needed them, they aren’t there.

“Maybe I need to start going to church.”

West Central District Tournament

Saturday at Spanaway’s Art Crate Field

Todd Beamer 2, South Kitsap 0

First half: 1, Todd Beamer, Austin Sweeney (Ugo Okoli), 19th minute.

Second half: 2, Todd Beamer, Okoli, 78th.

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