For whatever reason, the Gig Harbor High boys soccer team has struggled to score goals at times this season.
It was again the case in the second round of the Class 4A West Central District III tournament against Kentridge at Stadium High on Thursday evening, as the Tides were held scoreless in a 3-0 defeat, ending Gig Harbor’s season.
The first goal came in the 30th minute on a set piece. Kentridge (10-5-2 overall) junior Saidi Mwenyeheri perfectly looped the ball around the wall of Gig Harbor players, giving the Chargers a 1-0 halftime lead.
The Tides responded in the second, maintaining the bulk of possession and ramping up the pressure.
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“In the second half, the guys responded,” said Gig Harbor coach Todd Northstrom. “I thought we controlled the game. We generated shots. That was good. At halftime, we had no corner kicks. The second half, we had a bunch. We got shots off.”
But pushing numbers forward came at a cost, leaving Gig Harbor exposed to the counter attack, Kentridge’s preferred method of scoring. In the 65th minute, Kentridge junior Dylan Leeman found himself with acres of open space and beat Gig Harbor keeper Travis Peyton in the one-on-one to make it 2-0.
“They got the counter — you always worry about that stuff,” Northstrom said. “I think that’s the first breakaway (goal) we had all year.”
Before the season began, Northstrom said he heard from people that his team wasn’t going to make the playoffs after losing a massive season class from the previous year.
“I just told people, ‘These guys are good players. Watch ... we’ll get into the playoffs and see what happens,’” Northstrom said.
Gig Harbor (11-4-1) suffered a couple injuries to key players throughout the season, including attacking midfielder Chase Alire, who was a creative playmaker for the Tides. That forced defender Connor Tovey and others into the midfield.
“I was just trying people all year long in different spots,” Northstrom said. “Our defense was awesome this year. It had a weird feel most of the year. It was them trying to figure me out and vice versa. It wasn’t that they didn’t try or anything. They brought it every practice and game.”
Gig Harbor enters a new league next season in Class 3A, and returns several of this team’s key players, leaving Northstrom optimistic about the team’s future.
“We’ll get our guys healthy,” Northstrom said. “I’m really optimistic for next season.”