By Rob Shore
TUKWILA – Santi DiGiuseppe couldn’t bring himself to say it was a shot, because it wasn’t.
But even if it was a wayward cross from the left side of the penalty area, in his first game for Kitsap SC after recovering from a sports hernia, it was just what his team needed.
“I can’t claim that that,” the midfielder said with a laugh. “I’ve made fun of too many people for doing that and claiming a shot.”
DiGiuseppe scored in the 74th minute, three minutes after coming on, and Kitsap SC defeated OSA FC 1-0, to take the NPSL Northwest Division points lead. It also preserved Kitsap SC’s maximum-points record away from home.
It also served as a measure of revenge for Kitsap’s lone loss of the season.
“Three points in important always,” Kitsap SC head coach Roy Lassiter said. “OSA is a good, good team. They’ll fight to the end, they’re hard, they’re scrappy. They’ve got some talented players. And again, another away win, showing our focus, showing our determination.”
With the victory, Kitsap SC goes to 14 points, ahead of FCM Portland (12) and PDX FC (10).
The victory was also the second straight clean sheet for Kitsap goalkeeper Paul-Andre Guerin, coming off Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Spokane SC Shadow.
“That’s good to get two shutouts in a row,” Guerin said. “That’s a good sign we’re getting better because we’re going to need to do the same thing again.
Kitsap almost went ahead just before halftime. The team’s best chance in the first half came just before injury time on a free kick from 25 meters out. Mike Scharf’s ball found Nico D’Amato’s foot, but the shot was dragged just wide of the right post.
OSA had a couple of stunning chances to score in the first half.
In the 26th minute, Yonatan Tesfasilase had a chance from about 10 meters with Guerin well off his line, but he fired the ball well over the crossbar.
A few minutes later, OSA had a two-on-one breakaway, but Guerin came off his line to defuse the threat, and Tyler LaCourse cleared the ball.
Tesfasilase had another great chance close to halftime, getting the ball at his feet right in front of the net, but he blasted a shot right at Guerin.
But the Kitsap defense – the back four of Scharf, Tyler LaCourse, Jack Philp and Tony Mota were excellent all night – kept OSA at bay.
That merely set the stage for DiGiuseppe to make his debut in stirring fashion.
“We decided I’d get a runout tonight,” DiGiuseppe said, “and it ended well.”