Boys soccer: Cinderella Cougars eliminated

The pieces were in place — home-field advantage, a load of momentum and all the confidence in the world — but it wasn’t meant to be.

Under heavy rain much of the way, the Central Kitsap boys soccer team saw its season end Tuesday night in a 2-1 loss to Snohomish at Silverdale Stadium in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs.

The loss ended what had been an impressive — and surprising — postseason run in which the Cougars advanced to state for the first time since 2001 and won seven of their final 10 games, including a 1-0 victory last weekend over then-favored Jefferson of the South Puget Sound League (SPSL) in the district playoffs to clinch a state berth.

“I feel like it’s a premature end to the season, to be perfectly honest,” said coach Christopher Floro. “I take nothing away from them; it was a hard-fought game, we both played well and either of the teams, I thought, would have represented well at the quarterfinals.”

Early on, Snohomish was the aggressor on both sides of the ball. Floro said it took his team about five minutes to settle into the flow of the game.

Both teams were scoreless through the first 38 minutes of play, but Snohomish took a 1-0 lead into halftime after Connor Moe converted a free kick from about 35 yards out that found its way past a wall of Cougar defenders and skipped by goalkeeper Grant Rico inside the left post with 1:07 to play in the half.

The goal was both sudden and surprising.

“That goal before halftime was just a killer because it gave them an air of confidence,” Floro said. “I thought we had our work cut out for us in the second half. But we responded well.”

Thomas Sheets made it 2-0 four minutes into the second half with a header off a perfectly placed crossing pass from Travis Olsen, who went 40 yards down the sideline after tracking down a loss ball, finding Sheets open in front of the goal.

Chase Ichiki put the Cougars (12-7-1) on the board in the 64th minute with a right-footed blast from just outside the 15-yard mark. With his back turned to the goal, Ichiki fought off a Snohomish defender to create enough space to hook a shot past the goalie into the left corner of the net.

“I got some separation for the shot,” Ichiki said. “Then I saw the keeper shading toward the near post on the right side, so I just pinged it to the far post.”

Two minutes later, CK nearly evened the score when junior Niles Stirrett tapped a shot past Snohomish goalkeeper Levi Quinn, who was out of position. But the shot trickled just wide to the right, rolling out of bounds.

Neither team scored again.

“It was a great run and I know there are a number of people who were surprised we made it this far,” Floro said. “I felt we had something to prove.”

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