Injuries, illness plague Cougars

A rocky season continued for the Central Kitsap soccer team on Friday night when the Cougars dropped a 2-0 decision at South Kitsap.

First-year coach Rob Cole said the Cougars, who were outshot by South 24-6 in the Narrows League fray, were missing three starters and six players Senior co-captain Jesse Richards went down last week with a concussion suffered in practice. Fellow midfielder Shane Powell missed the contest with a schedule conflict, and sophomore Keith Cain was one of many Cougars afflicted with a bug that has been making its way around the corridors of the school perched atop Bucklin Hill Road.

“We have issues with guys being ineligible due to grades or they’ve been too sick to play, and it has been difficult,” said Cole, who praised the play of junior midfielder Brock Gaboriault. “We’ve been having to deal with that, but that’s the way the ball rolls.”

Against the undermanned Cougars, South got all the offense it would need when Matt Hopper scored in the 28th minute. Red-hot junior Jerad Kupietz scored his fifth goal in the 77th minute to give keeper Danny Phelps, who recorded his first shutout, some breathing room. With the loss, the Cougars fell to 0-3-2 in the Narrows League and 2-4-2 overall.

“South is kind of versatile,” Cole said. “They are really able to play at a level higher than we put them at. They don’t have anybody who really sticks out, but all their starters are solid and they pass the ball well. They play really well together as a team and they could definitely upset anybody in the league.”

Cole, who took over a team that went 16-2-1 and won a state playoff game last year, said he is not discouraged yet.

“I think honestly we’ve come around the big bend and we’re more settled into our positions. I think in the second half each show we give each team will be more competitive. I know they’re improving too, but I think they’ll see a better game now.”

Olympic 2, at North Kitsap 2 — The Trojans lost their goalkeeper Adam Paulin with a foot injury midway through the first half and had to overcame a 2-0 deficit to get a tie. Joel Nelson scored in the final minute of the first half and Brian Meherg added the tying goal in the 50th minute.

Senior Andy Hart, who had not played goalie since his youth soccer days, took over in the second half and came up with a critical save in the 65th minute for the Trojans.

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