Pair of goals by Hamilton helps Kamiak edge Mariner | Boys soccer
Round one goes to Kamiak.
Junior forward Andre’ Hamilton scored two goals to lead the Knights to a 2-1 victory over district rival Mariner in a Wesco 4A boys soccer game Friday, March 24, at Goddard Stadium.
Kamiak (2-0 in the league, 4-0 overall), playing without injured team captain Jason Kim, struck first in the 16th minute. The goal gave the Knights some early momentum and boosted the team’s confidence.
“It was pretty important because that has a lot to do with the momentum of the game,” Hamilton said of the first goal. “We wanted to take that momentum. We wanted it to be in our favor.”
Sebastian Munroe played the ball in an ideal spot for Hamilton and he did the rest.
“The keeper came to the front post,” Hamilton said. “I was able to put it in the back post.”
Kamiak coach Kosta Pitharoulis agreed that taking the early lead seemed to help calm the nerves of his young team. Kamiak only has four seniors on the roster and had two sophomores and two juniors in the backline.
Pitharoulis liked the way the Knights looked at the start of the contest.
“Over the years when we’ve come out here and played these guys, it’s been their intensity and our lack of intensity,” Pitharoulis said. “So tonight I thought we really matched their excitement, that Mariner typically has playing against us and exceeded that. So that’s what we were going for. I thought it was a great game, both sides really working hard.”
Mariner coach Vince DeSimone didn’t think giving up the first goal played too much into the loss.
“We play the same no matter what,” he said. “I think what really did it to us is they kind of controlled the long ball.”
Mariner (1-1, 3-1) tied the score at the 36-minute mark on a goal by senior midfielder Bakary Dibba and the two teams went into halftime deadlocked.
Hamilton again was in the right place at the right time in the 52nd minute and scored off an assist by Soren Pehlkivanian to give the Knights the lead.
“It was one of the best balls ever,” he said of the pass. “I was able to get on the end of it. … I just had to tap it in.”
Pitharoulis described that his junior forward as a tenacious player.
“He’s got a lot of fight in him and he wants the ball and he wants to do well,” Pitharoulis said.
The Kamiak backline played as well as Pitharoulis hoped it would.
The Marauders scored 17 goals in their first three games of the season and had opportunities against the Knights.
“I think that’s one of the best attacks in the league and we were able to shut them down for most of the game,” Hamilton said. “Our keeper (Jesus Gary) came up with some big saves.”
Pitharoulis said that the Kamiak defense has a solid all-around performance.
“The defense played amazing tonight,” he said. “They kept it extra organized and compact and covered for one another. So it was really nice to see. Just overall we played smart soccer.”
Munroe filled in for Kim and did a nice job, Pitharoulis added.
“It was a team win,” he said.
The Knights ended their season last year with a loss in the district playoffs, a loss that the returning players remember well.
“I think they’re just kind of picking up where they left off last year,” Pitharoulis said. “The taste in their mouth, the last loss of the year, was a difficult one. They have high hopes this year. Not just districts. They want to go to state and they want to do really well.”
Mariner advanced to the state quarterfinals and return a number of players but also lost some key contributors.
“Tonight I don’t know what it was. I’ve got new kids in there, but that’s not the excuse,” DeSimone said “I’ve got newcomers on the team and they’re playing pretty darn good, but they’ve got to settle down. … We’re not really down that we lost this game.
“We’ll be ready for the next one.”
Pitharoulis noted that the season has just started and there are many more games to go.
“I think overall the guys are really coming together nicely,” he said.