Sports

CK's defense is so good it's scary

From left, Jennifer Hunter, Michelle Drake, Emily Zygmontowicz, Carlye Rice and Tricia Hobaugh are the Central Kitsap soccer team’s defensive heart and soul that has helped the Cougars post a 9-1 record going into the final stretch of the season. Not pictured is sweeper Kate Robinson. - Photo by Jesse Beals
From left, Jennifer Hunter, Michelle Drake, Emily Zygmontowicz, Carlye Rice and Tricia Hobaugh are the Central Kitsap soccer team’s defensive heart and soul that has helped the Cougars post a 9-1 record going into the final stretch of the season. Not pictured is sweeper Kate Robinson.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

One.

That’s how many soccer balls have gotten through the Central Kitsap defense and into the net.

One.

That’s how many losses the Cougars have had all season because of that lone goal back on Sept. 25 by South Kitsap’s Lauren Gehring.

One.

That’s the team’s place in the Bridge Division standings after the first half of the 2003 season, tied with SK and Gig Harbor at a loss apiece. It’s also their ranking among the Narrows League in goals allowed with No. 2 Bellarmine Prep allowing four goals.

Six.

That’s how many Cougars you have to beat if you want to score and that’s been a nearly impossible feat as CK has racked up nine shutouts in their 10 games.

Olympic coach Steve Haggerty knows first-hand how tough it has been to score on CK after being shutout 2-0 on Sept. 23.

“We had trouble getting anything going,” Haggerty said. “Every time we tried to get the ball a couple of passes they’d shut us down. I bet they’ll only give up four or five goals all season.”

And while goalkeeper Emily Zygmontowicz, a junior, gets the credit for those shutouts, it’s all in part to the girls on defense playing in front of her.

“They make it easy for me,” admits Zygmontowicz.

The talent has even surprised the team members.

“There’s a spooky understanding of each other,” said co-captain Jennifer Hunter, a senior.

“I didn’t know our defense was going to be this good,” said sophomore Carlye Rice. “When started playing together it was shocking.”

The defense has plenty of layers that have frustrated their opponents. Stopper Michelle Drake and Hunter control the middle with Rice on the right and Tricia Hobaugh on the left. Behind them is sweeper Kate Robinson who is backed up by Zygmontowicz.

“We back each other up,” Drake said. “If we get beat we know Kate is there to back us up.”

“And Emily can save everything,” Hobaugh said. “It’s nice to know that someone is back there that can stop it.”

CK coach Vicky Webb says it all comes down to trust in your teammates.

“There’s a lot of confidence and trust in each other,” said Webb, now in her third year with the team. “They cover for each other and they’re smart. When somebody goes up, somebody else comes in behind. They communicate well and know where the other person is supposed to be.”

According to the girls, the secret for being a good defender lies all in the timing.

“You have to be aggressive and know when to go to the ball,” Hobaugh said. “If you time it too early or too late, they can go right past you.”

Of course it doesn’t hurt much to have a potent offense that can keep the ball on the opposite side of the field for extended periods and CK has that as well having scored a Bridge Division-high 47 goals.

To keep their heads in the game, the defenders frequently move up past the mid-field line to give the midfielders and forwards some help.

“We help the outside midfielders a lot and we have a stopper that moves up with the center midfielders that’s an integral part,” Hunter said. “And if it’s really slow like it was against Shelton (an 8-0 win on Tuesday), we let the sweeper come in and take a few shots.”

The Cougars know the true test of their skills comes against teams like South Kitsap and Gig Harbor (a team they beat on Sept. 30 for the first time in Webb’s tenure.)

“Gig Harbor is the best-of-the-best out there so beating them was good for us,” Webb said. “The only thing we talk about is that we may be doing OK in our little corner of the world, but when you take a step to another level we have to be prepared to play the Bellarmines and Stadiums and those are some high-level teams, so we continue to work hard.”

The girls think they have a strong shot at reaching the playoffs, something they missed out on last season.

“This team can go far if we can keep going the way we’ve been going,” Zygmontowicz said.

“We’ve got what it takes with our dedication, heart and will to win,” Drake said.

And the defense hopes they’ll be leading the way.

“Offense gets all the glory, but defense wins the game,” Hunter said.

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