In their first meeting, it took an offensive barrage to bring Sequim back from a three-goal deficit.
This time around, the Wolves weren’t about to fall behind in a similar fashion.
Backed by three senior defenders and a first half score from Adrian Funston, the Wolves edged rival Port Angeles 1-0 on April 9, taking a commanding two-game lead in the Olympic League standings.
“The team chemistry is through the roof,” senior midfielder Mike McAleer said of Sequim’s undefeated start.
Switching to a 4-3-3 formation — with Brandon Benson, Rudy Franco and Chris Morgan steadying the defensive line in front of keeper Navy Thomas-Brenske — the Wolves (7-0-0 in Olympic League, 7-0-2 overall) held at bay a Port Angeles squad (5-2-0, 6-2-0) that came in with a six-game winning streak and lurks just behind Sequim in the standings atop the Olympic League.
“The difference for that first game to this one (was quite different),” Sequim coach Dave Brasher said. “They were much more comfortable.”
On March 12, the league opener for both squads, it was exchange student Mathys Tanche who sparked Sequim’s rally in the Wolves’ 5-4 win at Port Angeles. On April 9, it was Tanche again providing the lift. Five minutes in, Tanche beat his defender down the left side, then drew in more Roughrider defenders before slipping a pass to a wide open Funston to put a shot past Rider keeper Anton Kathol.
“His intensity on defense (is special) and it’s some of the best attacking I’ve seen,” McAleer said of Tanche. “It’s awesome to have him on the team this this year.”
While Sequim dominated shots in goal in the first 10 minutes, including a pair of screaming line drives from the right wing from Ryan Tolberd that Kathol snagged, the Roughriders took momentum midway through the first half as they looked for an equalizer. Port Angeles junior Stuart Methner had a trio of shots — a deflection at 29 minutes, another while lying prone on his back at 26 minutes and a header off a corner kick at 24 minutes — that Thomas-Brenske managed to save.
Sequim regained the majority of the possessions after that, with Sean Weber just missing from 20 yards out at 20 minutes.
It appeared the Wolves had doubled their lead with nine minutes left after Eli Gish headed the ball past Kathol to Funston for a score but the goal was waved off.
Methner had Port Angeles’ best chance to even the game in the second half, but a clear shot in goal cleared the crossbar at 53 minutes.
“The Methners, Stuart and (senior midfielder) Andrew, they’re tough,” Brasher said. “PA defends really well (but) we have a strong team.”
Weber had two near-misses in the second half for Sequim, a header that was barely offline at 67 minutes and a left-footed shot in traffic at 70 minutes that Kathol ably stopped.
Kathol made a pair of key stops on a single Sequim possession at 73 minutes, stopping a Tanche breakaway and Kristian Mingoy’s follow moments later.
McAleer said a number of players on the Sequim and Port Angeles rosters know each other well from local and regional club teams.
And while the top spot in the Olympic League has in recent years been split between Kingston and North Kitsap, it’s the Olympic Peninsula squads staking their claim for the top two positions in 2019.
“The Storm King club really develops these kids,” Brasher said.
Wolves blank Bremerton
Sequim changed tactics in the second half and controlled the ball offensively in a 2-0 win over the host Bremerton Knights on April 12.
“We were playing a 3-4-3 in the first half and we weren’t able to make combination passes,” Brasher said. “We were disjointed. We defended well, we didn’t give up any goals, but we weren’t able to get any cohesive attack.”
Things changed after the break as the Wolves almost immediately challenged Bremerton. After a near-miss on a Gish header at 42 minutes, Sequim broke through in the 46th minute. McAleer threaded a pass through to Tanche on the right and he netted a 1-0 Sequim lead with a left-footed shot, Brasher said.
Sequim had a bunch of opportunities after that goal, the Sequim coach said, and finally got an insurance goal in the 69th minute, Brasher said.
“Adrian Funston started it off and sent it to Ryan Tolberd, who beat his man and sent it right to Kristian Mingoy and he finished it off.”
Thomas-Brenske and Jordan Hurdlow each played a half in goal to combine on the shutout.
Brasher named Mingoy as Sequim’s Man of the Match.
“He came on in the second half when we switched formations and was an energetic fireplug and got our second goal,” Brasher said of Mingoy. “He really worked hard down the side.”
Added Brasher, “Brandon Benson also played really well at center back and Funston put in another nice 80-minute performance.”
The Wolves were scheduled to host Olympic on April 16; results were not available at press time.
Sequim has three road games in a row — April 19 at North Kitsap, April 23 at Port Townsend and April 24 at Klahowya — before their final home match of the season, an April 26 game against North Mason.
Sequim finishes the regular season on April 29 at Kingston.