No matter how much you practice, it’s difficult to simulate actual game speed.
The Capital boys soccer team can certainly attest to that.
Playing for the first time in nearly two weeks, the Cougars ended their lengthy hiatus by tying visiting Wilson, 0-0, in Class 3A Narrows League action Tuesday at Ingersoll Stadium in Olympia.
“We had too much time off,” said Capital coach Andrew Lopez, whose squad last played April 2 when they tied Central Kitsap, 1-1. “(Wilson) played three times over the last week when we did nothing. We obviously practiced, but it’s tough to replicate a game.”
The Cougars (5-0-3 overall, 4-0-2 league) didn’t play for two weeks because of spring break and a scheduling quirk.
The tie, however, bumps Capital behind Central Kitsap (5-0-1 league) in the 3A Narrows standings. The two teams meet May 5 in Olympia in a match that should determine the league champion.
Wilson, last year’s league champion, also remains in the title hunt with a league record of 3-1-2, but will need some help as the their only league loss is to Central Kitsap.
The Cougars nearly netted an early second-half tally off the foot of Nigel El-Sokkary.
Sokkary’s blast in the 48th minute came from the left corner, 12 yards out, and appeared destined for the back of the net. Instead, Wilson sophomore goalkeeper Alek Greenleaf — who made several game-saving stops during the match — made a last-second save, redirecting the shot off the right post and back into play, where the Rams were able to clear.
Capital continued to control the pace of play and possessions throughout the second half, but Greenleaf turned away another strong scoring chance by the Cougars in 63rd minute with a save on Alec Zimmerman’s shot
“I thought we did a good job getting chances,” Lopez said. “We just didn’t finish them. If we play earlier in the season, who knows? We may connect on them.”
The Cougars entered the contest having outscored league opponents a combined 22-2 over five matches this season, but were held scoreless for the first time this year.
Capital goalkeeper Van Soderberg came up big down the stretch as well, punching away a shot from Pablo Ramos in the 75th minute.
The teams played to a scoreless tie in the first half.
Capital held a 6-4 edge in shots in the first half with a 2-1 advantage in corner kicks.
The Cougars registered chances on shots by Riley Potkonjak, El-Sokkary and Scott Penner in the 28th minute, but all were thwarted by Greenleaf.
The barrage of scoring opportunities came after Potkonjak fired a shot from the right corner, which a sprawling Greenleaf managed to get a glove on it, tipping the ball away, but hardly out of harm’s way.
After El-Sokkary’s attempt from point-blank range ricocheted off Greenleaf, Penner was unable to punch in the rebound as his shot was secured by Greenleaf, preserving the scoreless tie.
Soderberg made a pair of diving saves of his own in the first half, with the Rams’ best chance coming on a shot by Louis Fox in the 33rd minute.