Published: Wednesday, June 27, 2012

SeaWolves rally to beat Highlanders

North Sound finds a way to overcome an early 2-0 deficit

By Chris Trujillo
For The Weekly Herald
Sea Wolves Nasyir Rodriguez (left) uses a high kick to control a pass in front of a Victoria defender during first half action of their June 22 game.

For the Weekly Herald/DOUG RAMSAY

Sea Wolves Nasyir Rodriguez (left) uses a high kick to control a pass in front of a Victoria defender during first half action of their June 22 game.

North Sound leading scorer Abdul Aman ripped a penalty shot past Victoria goalkeeper Elliott Mitrou late in the first half to help jump-start an otherwise sluggish North Sound team.
The SeaWolves, who had trailed 2-0, went on to score two more goals in the second half to defeat the Victoria Highlanders 3-2 in a Premier Development League soccer match June 22 at Edmonds Stadium.
The victory snapped a three-game losing streak during which the SeaWolves were outscored 10-3. Aman, who leads the team with five goals, also broke out of a three-game scoring drought.
Knotted at 2, North Sound midfielder Marshall Kosaka knocked in a loose ball after a mad scramble inside the goalie box for the game-winner in the 65th minute. It was the Seattle University senior's first goal of the season.
“The ball was bouncing around the box and, luckily, I got to it first,” said Kosaka, who scored three goals and started 15 matches as a junior at SU in 2011. “I am not sure how close it was, but the referee was right there on the line. It feels really good to get a win, especially at home.”
The Highlanders, who entered the game having scored just two goals on the road, matched that mark 33 minutes in the first half. Gareth Langdon headed in a crossing pass from Jordan Hughes in the 20th minute and an apparent own-goal off a SeaWolves player 13 minutes later gave Victoria a 2-0 lead. Highlander forward Ashley Burbeary was credited with the score. The goal, however, could have just as easily gone off a Victoria player. An unsecured ball and a goalie box crawling with Victoria players set the scene for a potential Victoria goal, one way or another. And it wasn't a one-time event.
The Highlanders spent nearly the entire first half deep in North Sound territory, a bulk of it crowding SeaWolves backup goalkeeper Elmer Rodriguez, who had to fight off a handful of legitimate shots. The North Sound defense has been a sore spot for the team all season, especially at home where they've allowed 11 goals; they've allowed 9 on the road.
“We were just disconnected out there on defense,” Seattle University sophomore Brady Ballew said. “We were undisciplined and that's been the issue with our defense this season. And we heard about it from coach (Alex Silva) at halftime.”
Silva's halftime adjustments paid off in the second half. The once flat-footed SeaWolves shored up its defense and limited Victoria's ability to fire shots from close range. The more-disciplined defense helped the SeaWolves flip the field and increase the pressure offensively.
“Our problems have been a defensive thing,” Kosaka said. “It's been all about keeping our composure in the back end. We've been giving up a lot of scores on crosses and we haven't been taking care of the ball. We play better when we concentrate on our defense, and that translates into our offense.”
The SeaWolves gained momentum early in the second half for the first time in the game. Ballew drove home his third marker of the season from 15 yards out off a David Hill pass to tie the score at 2 in the 54th minute.
“The second half was the best we've played all season,” Silva said. “We started out the same way, making mistakes, and we still have work to do on our defense. But the second half we moved the ball well and our defense played stronger.”
The SeaWolves host the third-place Sounders FC U23 at 7:30 June 29 at Edmonds Stadium. The Sounders U23 won the first meeting 3-0 on June 10.