Gig Harbor senior outside midfielder Jovani Martinez has had a sneaky good season for the Tides.
Despite not being one of the top two scoring threats for Gig Harbor, he finished the season with five goals, good for third on the team, behind Chase Tovey (13) and Chase Alire (9).
Martinez found his sixth goal — and his biggest of the season, by far — in a match May 11 at Mount Tahoma High School against Evergreen High School in the opening round of the Class 3A West Central/Southwest bi-district tournament.
After a teammate’s shot deflected off the crossbar in the 70th minute with the game tied at one, Martinez struck a perfect volley into the net to give Gig Harbor the lead and an eventual opening round 2-1 win.
“I was just trying to keep it low and not blast it over,” Martinez said. “It was just a good team effort. We didn’t give up, we just kept playing our game. We just kept passing and moving, it was a good team effort, just trying to get it in the box.”
It was the sort of moment that Gig Harbor coach Todd Northstrom has seen glimpses of this season from his senior winger.
“I’d like to see my outside mids score more but sometimes they lose their shape,” Northstrom said. “When (Martinez) doesn’t, he’s a ball hound, he gets around in the right areas. He’s had a couple goals like that. I was happy for him. He played a much better second half. It was nice to see him get that ball.”
Alire got the scoring started in the first half in the 32nd minute, after a ball deflected off Tovey’s chest and fell to him. But Evergreen got on the score sheet in the 55th minute, with Killian Burris headed home a goal off a free kick to equalize.
“Everyone seemed kind of nervous (after conceding) but we just kind of stayed with it, kept working hard and got the win,” Martinez said.
GIG HARBOR 2, MOUNTAIN VIEW 1
Gig Harbor punched its ticket to the 3A state tournament just two days later in Vancouver, scrapping to come from behind in a tough road environment and come away with a 2-1 win against the Mighty Thunder.
After trailing 1-0 at half, Alire got the Tides level with a goal in the 47th minute. The score stayed even until the end of the regulation. In the second 10-minute overtime period, with about two minutes before the teams would have to head to penalty kicks to decide the fate of the game, Gig Harbor earned a free kick in a dangerous spot.
Mountain View’s keeper lost track of where he was and picked the ball up outside of the 18-yard box, and was subsequently called for a hand ball. Tovey stepped up to take the free kick and buried the shot, sending Gig Harbor to the state tournament.
“It took everyone a second to realize that we had won,” Northstrom said. “He got dogpiled by everyone. It was pretty exciting.”
Alire and Tovey, who have been Gig Harbor’s go-to scorers this year, came through again for the Tides.
“They just feed off each other,” Northstrom said.
Northstrom also credited speedy senior Shawn Kimble. Despite not showing up in the score sheet, Kimble’s had an impact on the game.
“Kimble has matured into the position — he opens up space for those guys,” Northstrom said. “He makes some unselfish runs. He’s taking on the role of sacrificing the glory. He does all the little things.”
After trailing 1-0 at half, Northstrom let his team hear it in the locker-room at the break.
“I chewed them out at halftime,” he said. “But I felt like we were going to win. In every game we lost this year, we beat ourselves. … So I just felt like we were moving the ball the ball, doing things well. We wanted to start out attack from the back, move the ball. We stretched them, opened up the center of the field. It just took off from there. That’s how you possess, and that’s why we possess. Even when it was 1-1, I just felt like something was going to happen.”
Gig Harbor played Squalicum on Tuesday, May 16 at Curtis High School in the opening round of the 3A state tournament. Since the game was past the Gateway’s Tuesday print deadline, check www.gateline.com for results.