Sequim’s Cristian Gonzalez, left, looks to make a move past Port Angeles’ Josiah Long in the Wolves’ 2-0 home-opener win over the Roughriders on March 25. Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group

Sequim’s Cristian Gonzalez, left, looks to make a move past Port Angeles’ Josiah Long in the Wolves’ 2-0 home-opener win over the Roughriders on March 25. Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group

PREP BOYS SOCCER: Sequim stymies Port Angeles thanks to precise passing, first-half scores

Desser strong in goal for Port Angeles

SEQUIM — Aidan Henninger’s backflip during the pregame lineup introductions was only a hint of the style and imaginative play the Sequim boys soccer team produced in a 2-0 win over rival Port Angeles.

“It was pretty gutty,” Wolves head coach Ken Garling said of the performance. “After having a big game the day before and having to come back and play Port Angeles, a great team that always plays tough, for the boys to come back and have that response, yeah, I’m pretty proud.”

Sequim controlled the game, linking up time after time with well-placed passes, building up its attack and putting pressure on the Roughrider goal from the opening whistle.

“That’s kind of been our goal from the beginning is to get on the front foot, get the energy, get a quick score, set the precedent and go from there,” Garling said.

Senior forward Eli Gish continued his strong start, scoring a goal in the seventh minute off of an assist from junior Brandon Charters.

Charters made a run up the left sideline, turned his Port Angeles defender along the end line and found Gish who stuffed his shot into the upper left corner of the goal for his sixth score in the first two games of the season.

“What he brings to the game is more than just soccer skills, it’s attitude, heart, dedication and he’s just an all-around great kid,” Garling said.

Sequim appeared to have notched a second goal 10 minutes later when Charters sent a ball forward to an on-running Taylor Lawson who converted on the breakaway before Sequim was whistled for an offsides violation.

Charters’ vision and the placement of his passes was a highlight for Sequim.

“It was unreal, right?,” Garling said. “Solid, super smart with the ball and seems to be finding the right passes at the right times. It’s tremendous and fun to watch.”

Charters played down his role in the attack.

“It makes me look good passing to the people that are fast and skilled,” Charters said. “It’s really just put it into the space and let them run to it. It’s more them than me.”

Following Gish’s goal, Riders’ goalkeeper Logan Desser then stood tall, saving a bullet of a shot by Henninger and making a tip save over the goal on an Ethan Knight strike.

But Henninger is nothing if not persistent. He regrouped and found the back of the net in the 29th minute with a low kick to the left post and the junior celebrated in style with another backflip at midfield.

“You have to love that,” Garling said of Henninger’s flair on the field. “One of the things I think is great I encourage the kids to express themselves and what better way than on the soccer pitch? I think that’s part of the creativity and I love it.”

Charters said Henninger is the type of player you love to have on your squad, but would hate to face on the opposition.

“I’ve described him that way forever and ever,” Charters said. “When we are in practice and he’s on the other team in a scrimmage, it’s the worst. He has so much energy and he’s willing to go into every tackle like it’s his last. It’s great to have him on your team, but its dangerous to play against him because he gives it his all.”

Desser and Port Angeles held Sequim scoreless in the second half, but the Wolves still had chances, the best shot a Gish free kick that blasted off the goal bar.

“The Wolves outskilled and out-passed PA throughout the game, but the Riders effort in the second half was better,” Port Angeles coach Chris Saari said. Saari cited Desser, defender Dominic Fischer and midfielder Damon Gunderson for their play in the match.

“Their keeper was lights out,” Garling said of Desser’s play.

Garling was smiling beneath his mask after the game.

“With only having the one sub, it’s another solid team performance,” Garling said. “I can’t thank the kids enough for everyone collectively coming together and playing the way they have. I’m super happy.”

Sequim (2-0) visits Klahowya on Wednesday, while Port Angeles (0-2) heads to Chimacum to face East Jefferson on Tuesday.

________

Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or at mcarman@peninsuladailynews.com.

Sequim’s Eli Gish, right, looks for a teammate as Port Angeles’ Damon Gunderson defends in a March 25 match in Sequim. Gish scored in the first half — his sixth goal in the season’s first two games — as the Wolves shut out the Riders, 2-0. Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group

Sequim’s Eli Gish, right, looks for a teammate as Port Angeles’ Damon Gunderson defends in a March 25 match in Sequim. Gish scored in the first half — his sixth goal in the season’s first two games — as the Wolves shut out the Riders, 2-0. Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group

Port Angeles’ Kaleb Gagnon, left, looks to advance the ball in Sequim territory as the Wolves’ Eli Gish defends in a March 25 match. Gish scored in the first half — his sixth goal in the season’s first two games — as the Wolves shut out the Riders, 2-0. Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group

Port Angeles’ Kaleb Gagnon, left, looks to advance the ball in Sequim territory as the Wolves’ Eli Gish defends in a March 25 match. Gish scored in the first half — his sixth goal in the season’s first two games — as the Wolves shut out the Riders, 2-0. Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group

Sequim’s Brandon Charters, left, and Port Angeles’ Damon Gunderson vie for possession in a March 25 match in Sequim. The host Wolves shut out their cross-peninsula rivals, 2-0. Looking on are Sequim’s Eli Gish (13) and Port Angeles’ Dominick Fischer (22). Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group

Sequim’s Brandon Charters, left, and Port Angeles’ Damon Gunderson vie for possession in a March 25 match in Sequim. The host Wolves shut out their cross-peninsula rivals, 2-0. Looking on are Sequim’s Eli Gish (13) and Port Angeles’ Dominick Fischer (22). Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group

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