Sports

Cougars edge Olympic in one of best ‘Battles’ yet

Olympic’s Anndrea O’Leary gets sandwiched between Central Kitsap’s Kirsten Anthony and Kate Berni (13) Tuesday. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Olympic’s Anndrea O’Leary gets sandwiched between Central Kitsap’s Kirsten Anthony and Kate Berni (13) Tuesday.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

The Battle of Bucklin Hill was just as tough in futbol this week as it was in football.

Central Kitsap and Olympic met on the pitch for what is now a non-league battle between two of the county’s strongest soccer squads, but that hasn’t drained any of the will to win from either the Cougars (4-1-0) or Trojans (2-2-0), as evidenced in Tuesday’s 2-1 CK victory. The game was one of the most closely contested soccer “Battles” in recent memory.

But what keeps the rivalry fueled is the fact that most of the girls have played on the same, or competing, youth and select teams since they were just young girls.

“I love playing Oly,” Central Kitsap coach Vicky Webb said. “It’s a great matchup. And as always, they all play together.”

“It’s the fact they played against and with those girls all the time,” Oly coach Steve Haggerty said. “It’s a pride thing. When you play against people you know really well, you want to step up and excel.”

Things got going quickly as both squads fought to pressure on offense. But it was Oly getting the early edge when Trojan midfielder Kelsey Anchors crossed a pass to Liz Curry in front who put the ball in the back of the net on a great one-timer with just nine minutes left before the half.

As it appeared Oly was heading into the half with the lead, Ck struck back, with Hannah Anderson making a move in front to beat keeper Pepper Fanua with the equalizer.

In the second half, the teams were just as active, with CK showing great passing to open up lanes. With numbers in the Cougs’ favor, CK’s Brandi Hamre was able to place a short pass to sophomore Mandy Walker for an easy shot at the open net. Hamre’s real contribution on the play, however, was forcing Fanua to cut down the angle on CK’s most prolific scorer, freeing up the net for Walker.

“If you look at high-level soccer, that’s how goals are scored,” Haggerty said.

And while that’s how the score would finish, both squads were pressing the rest of the way. The play of keepers Fanua and CK’s Ellen Boyd was the main reason scoring wasn’t a little higher.

“That was a good game,” Haggerty said. “We created some opportunities, but I thought we could have played better defense.”

For CK, Webb said the game showed what her Cougs can do when running full throttle.

“When we compose ourselves and press and talk and move, we’re really good,” Webb said. “We have to be proactive instead of reactive. And you have to be patient.”

While the game is certainly a rivalry both squads want to win, their friendships transcend the pitch. With the Trojans pressing hard to create an opportunity in the final minutes of the contest, Curry went down with severe cramping. Hamre came over while Curry was on the ground, making sure her friend, and rival, was OK.

“It was a battle,” Haggerty said. “But it’s a friendly rivalry. It was a touch of class when Liz got hurt and Brandi came over.”

Webb agreed, adding that the Trojans always find ways to challenge the Cougs.

“They’re very good,” Webb said. “That is a very strong team with excellent athletes. The ball just bounced our way.”

With tough non-league schedules for both squads, the teams’ coaches are confident they’ll be ready, heading into their respective league schedules.

“But playing games like this and South (Kitsap) will help us get ready for league,” Haggerty said. “If we can keep with CK and South, we can compete with Bremerton and Peninsula.”

For CK, it was more about getting tough physical matches in prior to sizing up with schools on the other side of the bridge.

“You have to know how to match up physically with people,” she said. “With our non-league season, we really made an effort to play tough teams.”

And while the rivalry matches between CK and Oly no longer have any relevance in the standings, both coaches said they still have meaning when it comes to pride between friends.

“Even though it’s a non-league game, it matters to us,” Webb said of both squads.

“Pat on the back to CK,” Haggerty said. “They proved they were the better team tonight.”

Wednesday, the Trojans fought to a 3-0 win with North Kitsap to complete their non-league schedule. CK began league play last night against Mt. Tahoma, pounding the Thunderbirds 7-1. Oly hosts bremerton Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. while CK travels to Bellarmine the same day at 7 p.m.

Klahowya

The Klahowya girls soccer squad got an eye-opening experience after streaking out to a 2-0-0 record before falling victim to Kingston in the school’s first-ever soccer victory.

Kingston scored twice before the half to take a 2-0 lead on the Eagles (2-1-0), but Klahowya’s Sierra Cook scored two goals in a 6-minute period in the second half to tie things up.

But Buccaneer Meghan Antoni found the back of the net in the 67th minute to hand the Eagles their first loss.

Klahowya hosts Port Townsend at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday.

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