The 1A defending state champion Klahowya Eagles were tested in their season debut against a Top 10 2A school in North Kitsap Sept. 5.
The matchup proved to be a battle between offensive powerhouses as the Eagles came out victorious 5-4 and falling behind 4-1 in the first half.
“It was a great way to open up the season against a tough opponent and test ourselves,” NK coach Travis Rider said. “We showed we wouldn’t back down and be intimated by some star athletes.”
Klahowya’s coach Troy Oelschlager said: “We were trying to figure things out, and North Kitsap is a good, competitive team. I am glad they agreed to play with us.”
NK had the first opportunity within the first minute but a few players were offsides. However, Evelyn Beers scored her first goal in the bottom right corner in five minutes into the game to take the 1-0 lead.
“Every game has its highs and lows,” Rider said. “We had our moments of quality and Klahowya grew into the game. It was the first game for both squads so it’s always interesting to see how the tale goes.”
Klahowya responded 10 minutes later when Addyson Dickey found the net to tie it at 1-1. As the time winded down in the first half, the Vikings began to take over. Beers scored her second goal from the left wing. Once Beers scored, Oelschalger began to change his squad around.
“We changed some positioning and moved one defender to the other side to stop the speed of [Beers],” Oelschalger said. “She didn’t end up with any goals in the second half. We have so many offensive-minded players that we need to teach them we can’t have all six go up at the same time.”
Five minutes later, NK was awarded a penalty kick. Syleena Hogan nailed it to give the Vikings a 3-1 lead. A few minutes later, Hogan fired a shot from 35 yards out to take a 4-1 lead.
“I loved our energy, passion and mentality,” Rider said.
It was the first time the Eagles gave up four goals since allowing that number to NK in 2019.
“I can’t remember the last time we gave up four goals—that kills me,” Oelschalger said. “We need to work on how to play team defense. We got isolated too many times.”
Although it looked like the Vikings had the Eagles handled, Raven Stoner scored 30 seconds after Hogan’s second goal. So the Eagles slimmed the lead to 4-2 at halftime.
The Eagles kept the momentum rolling as Ali Divano dribbled past two defenders and scored within the first minute of the second half. A few minutes later, Stoner found the back of the net again off a deflection to tie it at 4-4 with 30 minutes left.
Both teams took shots on the net but neither found it until a handful of minutes remained. A late foul gave Amira Lyons the opportunity to win the game with a 35-yard free kick. Once the whistle was blown, Lyons shot it over the wall and into the net to earn the game-winning goal.
“That was great to see [Amira] get that,” Oelschalger said. “She helped us dial things in defensively and held the middle for us.”
Oelschalger added, “We know about the offensive firepower on our roster so we didn’t panic. As long as we knew we could shut them out in the second half, we had every confidence in the world we would finish it off.”