In the battle of unbeatens, Kyle Casey proved to be the difference maker.
The Bellarmine Prep sophomore scored a pair of goals and the visiting Lions defeated Olympia, 3-2, in a clash of the top two 4A Narrows League boys soccer squads Thursday at Ingersoll Stadium.
“You need to play 80 (minutes) in this league,” said Olympia coach Ty Johnson. “I thought we got off to a solid start, but against any of the good teams in the Narrows if you have any kind of letdown they’ll make you pay for it.”
Olympia (5-2-1 overall, 4-1-0 league) cut the deficit to 3-2 on Chris Sutton’s goal in the 71st minute, but were unable to punch in the tiebreaker despite some quality looks in the closing moments.
Never miss a local story.
“Our goal this year is to make it to districts. I don’t care if we go in as the first, second or third team out of our league,” Johnson said. “It would be great to go in as league champions, which is still in reach, but our goal hasn’t changed.”
Connor Desmond’s strike in the 19th minute on a penalty kick gave the Bears their first score, while Neil Boyal assisted on Sutton’s score.
Sandwiched between Olympia’s two goals were three unanswered tallies by the Lions (4-0-2 league), the pair from Casey and one from Luke Witker.
The Bears were missing two of their standout players as senior Davin Johnson, a first-team all-league selection at goalkeeper last year, and junior midfielder Andrew Hoang were unavailable to play as the two starters were attending a Future Business Leaders of America conference in Spokane.
Despite being shorthanded, Olympia peppered Bellarmine with a pair of early shots and a corner kick within the game’s opening two minutes as the Bears came out firing.
Moments after Olympia defenders turned away a Lions attack led by Robert Nurmi, who worked the ball in front of the Bears goal before coming up empty, Desmond took the ball down the left sideline before being brought down and receiving a penalty kick.
Desmond left little doubt on the kick’s result, blasting it by Bellarmine goalkeeper Dylan Zurfluh to put Olympia, which had failed to convert its previous two PKs, on the scoreboard first.
The Lions found the equalizer just before the first half expired when Nurmi curled a cross to Casey, who found the back of the net to square the match, 1-1.
Ian Hesse nearly recaptured the lead for Olympia early in the second half, but the junior’s toe poke within 10 feet of the goal in the 42nd minute struck the left post.
Bellarmine made it 2-1 in the 53rd minute after Witker’s goal.
The tally came after Olympia goalkeeper Brandon Pruett came off the line to challenge Witker on a breakaway. Witker, however, simply lobbed it over the charging Pruett’s head and into the back of the net.
Nurmi certainly aided Casey on his first goal by delivering a pretty pass, but Casey’s second was all his doing as he wove his way through traffic all the way down field before pounding it past an outstretched Pruett in the 60th minute, giving the Lions a comfortable 3-1 advantage.
The rematch will take place on May 11 in Tacoma to close out the regular season.