Gateway: Sports

Gig Harbor soccer riding early-season undefeated streak

Gig Harbor sophomore left back Nate Jones, shown here in a practice earlier this season, scored a hat trick in the final 14 minutes of the game against North Thurston to seal a comeback for the ages and effectively wrap up the league title for the Tides.
Gig Harbor sophomore left back Nate Jones, shown here in a practice earlier this season, scored a hat trick in the final 14 minutes of the game against North Thurston to seal a comeback for the ages and effectively wrap up the league title for the Tides. jmanley@gateline.com

How long can Gig Harbor keep its undefeated streak alive? After a blazing hot start, that’s the most intriguing question currently in the Class 3A South Sound Conference.

The Tides have posted an 8-0 overall record and a 7-0 mark in the SSC 3A, and have a 19-1 goal differential. Gig Harbor’s only conceded goal so far this season came on a penalty kick against crosstown rival Peninsula, in a 2-1 win for the Tides.

Max Frank leads the team with six goals, while Trevin Snell and Dylan Horwath have tallied four apiece. Snell leads the team with five assists.

“We were always pretty confident going in, with our abilities and what we think we can accomplish,” Frank said. “The undefeated start is less about the results and more about how we’re playing. If we’re playing well and creating a lot of chances, that’s more comforting than getting the win. It’s definitely a nice thing. You just aim to keep it going.”

So far, the goals have been spread out pretty evenly for the Tides’ attack.

“We just have fun with the free flowing attack,” Snell said. “It doesn’t matter if we get the goal or we set someone up. As long as we score, we’re having fun and it doesn’t matter really who gets the goal. It’s fun scoring goals.”

First-year head coach Joe Ross has been happy with the early results.

“The core returners have been great leaders, we’ve been able to be competitive due to the athleticism and depth of our squad,” Ross said. “We’re at a stage now where we’re just trying to fine-tune the game. We’re still putting a few pieces together in regards to where everyone fits in. When that happens, I think it’ll be a smoother, possession style game. Right now, we’re kind of using a lot of our speed to our advantage. I want to get that back into our possession game.”

About that 19-1 goal differential: Gig Harbor’s back-line of Nate Jones, Logan Kinney, Ethan Marshman and Jordan Dowd has stifled the attack of the opponents.

“They’re really understanding of what I’m looking forward in regards to communication on the back line,” Ross said. “They’re playing together. They’re covering extremely well. … Besides their natural athleticism, their speed to recover has been very beneficial. That’s keeping other teams away from our goal.”

Gig Harbor’s stout defense has opened up several counterattack scoring opportunities going forward.

“It frustrates them a little, that they’re not getting the chances they normally get against other teams,” Frank said. “That can kind of play into our hands, they start pressing. That’s when we can hit them on the counter attack, when they’re trying to throw more bodies forward to try to find a breakthrough.”

And when the other team starts pressing and pushing numbers forward, that’s when Gig Harbor has created on the other end.

“It just lets us control the pace of the game and makes them chase the whole game,” Snell said. “At this level, it’s not going to take long for them to wear down when they’re just running after the ball. They’re just not going to have the legs to do it. It makes it a lot easier to stop those attacks and control the pace of the game, passing it around and trying to open up spaces for our attacking players.”

Frank said the team won’t speed much time thinking about trying to preserve the undefeated streak.

“You don’t want to approach every game with the fear of losing the undefeated streak, but you can pull off of that to keep complacency at bay,” Frank said. “You can also say, ‘We have a good thing going, let’s do our best to keep that going on.’”

Gig Harbor faces crosstown rival Peninsula tonight (Tuesday, April 3) at Roy Anderson Field at 7 p.m.

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