LAKE STEVENS — Needing a win to keep pace in the crowded Wesco 4A title race, the Kamiak boys soccer team delivered.
Andre’ Hamilton and Noah Venditto each scored and goalkeeper Connor Bourne made several key saves, lifting the visiting Knights to a 2-1 win over Lake Stevens in a conference showdown Tuesday night.
But it didn’t come without some tense moments in stoppage time.
The Vikings twice thought they had scored a stoppage-time equalizer, but the officials waved off both would-be goals.
The first came during a scramble in front of the net. Lake Stevens coach Wes VanHooser said the official ruled Bourne had possession of the ball on the ground before a Vikings player kicked it into the net.
Lake Stevens’ second stoppage-time scoring chance came after a Kamiak defender deflected an on-frame shot in front of the net. A Vikings player fired home the rebound, but was ruled offside.
Kamiak (9-3-1 overall, 7-3-1 Wesco 4A) survived the late scares to earn a pivotal win and move into third place in the conference standings. The Knights trail first-place Mount Vernon by three points with three league matches remaining.
“Every win is important,” Kamiak coach Kosta Pitharoulis said. “I thought we played pretty well. … Our goalkeeper played outstanding when he needed to, and our defense did as well.”
Hamilton scored the match’s first goal off a deflected save in the 32nd minute.
Kamiak’s Marcus Swanson began the scoring sequence with a pass out wide to Harrison Rohrbough on the right side of the pitch. Rohrbough then flicked a one-time pass over Lake Stevens’ defense and in front of the far-left post, where Hamilton sent a header toward the net.
Lake Stevens’ goalkeeper made a diving save but deflected the ball toward Hamilton, who rocketed it into the upper-right portion of the net for a 1-0 Knights lead.
Lake Stevens (9-4-0, 7-4-0) created several scoring chances early in the second half — including a soft, arcing shot off the crossbar — but couldn’t convert.
“You can’t miss that many opportunities,” VanHooser said.
Venditto, a junior defender, extended Kamiak’s lead with a brilliant header in the 53rd minute. Off a cross from Swanson, Venditto leaped and headed a looping ball that tucked just under the crossbar to make it 2-0.
“Noah got a head on it and created some incredible spin,” Pitharoulis said. “I think everybody, including myself, thought it was going over. But it just kind of dipped under the bar.”
Bourne, a sophomore, made several crucial saves for the Knights. One of the biggest came during a one-on-one situation in the 70th minute, when he caught a hard liner from short distance to preserve Kamiak’s two-goal lead.
“Connor has been big all season long,” Pitharoulis said. “He’s been big when he’s needed to be, and that’s kind of our rule of thumb when it comes to goalkeepers.
“They’re supposed to make all of the easy saves and one spectacular save a game. And he tends to make more than one spectacular save a game. It’s been a lot of fun watching him.”
Lake Stevens got on the board with a 72nd-minute goal by junior Sebastian Figueroa, who scored from short distance off a Sam Bitnes cross to cut the deficit to 2-1.
But the Vikings couldn’t net an equalizer against Kamiak’s stingy defense, which has allowed just nine goals all season. The Knights have yielded one goal or less in 12 of their 13 matches.
“They’ve just been real stout, real organized,” Pitharoulis said. “It’s a veteran group back there that plays well together. They communicate well, they play well together and they don’t like to give up goals.”