After seizing a one-goal lead in the 67th minute on Gig Harbor High senior Shawn Kimble’s goal, the Tides were feeling pretty good about the way things were shaping up in their Class 3A state tournament opening round game Tuesday night against Squalicum High at Curtis High School.
But just one minute later, the head official awarded a penalty to Squalicum.
Up stepped Squalicum’s most imposing player, bruising junior midfielder Ale Tomasi, who had been a matchup problem most of the night for the undersized Gig Harbor squad.
Tomasi sent the shot to the right side. Gig Harbor junior keeper Winston Sappenfield guessed right.
It was the biggest turning point in a wild, back-and-forth match in University Place, which Gig Harbor (13-3-3) ultimately won, 4-2, to advance to the state quarterfinals.
“I was nervous, I’m not going to lie,” Sappenfield said. “I tried to keep my cool and it all worked out.”
Sappenfield’s guess was at least somewhat educated. He said he watches players throughout the match to try to gauge which way they’re opening their hips.
“My goalie coach, James (Dillon), he’s been teaching me how to read people,” Sappenfield said. “Just teaching me the way they move their hips. I saw it there in the middle of the game.”
A conversion on the kick would’ve meant a tie game. But once Sappenfield made the stop, the Tides took the momentum from Squalicum (18-2-1) and ran with it. In the 70th minute, Gig Harbor scored again, as Chase Tovey headed a free kick into the goal to make it 3-1. Then, another penalty was awarded to Gig Harbor, as senior winger Jovani Martinez was taken down in the box. Senior Chase Alire stepped up and knocked down the goal — his second penalty kick conversion of the day.
The first of Alire’s PK conversions actually came in the first half, in the 37th minute. The official wasn’t done yet, awarding one final penalty shot to Squalicum in the 79th minute. This time, Tomasi knocked it in, to cut the deficit to 4-2.
When it was all said and done, four penalty kicks were given out over the course of the game.
On goals that didn’t come from penalty kicks, the biggest was from Kimble, who patiently drifted across the goal to his right before sending a laser across goal and past the keeper to give the Tides the 2-1 lead.
“I saw some space and took my touch,” Kimble said. “I saw (Tovey) was coming across with a defender. So I touched it by him and it opened up a bunch of space. ... I just ripped it there and it went in.”
Gig Harbor coach Todd Northstrom, who recently praised Kimble for being an unselfish player, was happy to see his senior find the back of the net.
“He just came across his body and just buried it in the corner,” Northstrom said. “He’s been working so hard, he deserved that goal. He’s been so unselfish. I had a feeling he was going to get one tonight. That was a sweet one. I felt when we got that, I think we got this thing.”
Gig Harbor will hit the road next to face West Seattle, which upset Stadium on Tuesday. The game’s date and time has not yet been determined.