Gig Harbor’s Logan Kinney (12) goes up for a header against Central Kitsap’s Chris Hunter (11) in the first half. Gig Harbor played Central Kitsap in a soccer match at Gig Harbor High School in Gig Harbor, Wash., on Thursday, April 13, 2017.
Being an aggressive center back has helped make Gig Harbor High School’s Logan Kinney one of the area’s top defenders and the Tides an annual participant in the state 3A soccer tournament.
It also cost Kinney three games this season because of an injury.
In a game vs. Shelton on March 21, Kinney went up for a header but instead of getting the ball he hit his opponent’s head. He suffered a minor concussion. Kinney was looking to be ready for the crosstown showdown with Peninsula on April 4 but Tides coach Joe Ross wanted to hold him one more game just to make sure he was fully healthy.
“What was so frustrating for us as a coaching staff and for him is he knew he shouldn’t have been as aggressive (on that play),” Ross said.
The time on the sideline was tough on Kinney, who was selected the South Sound Conference’s Defender of the Year in 2018 as a junior.
“I was walking around on the sidelines, helping coach the team. It was not fun playing,” Kinney said. “It was tough to watch sometimes. It happens, I learned a lot from it. I was overly aggressive on the play, I was just unlucky on the play.”
With Kinney manning the back line, the Tides have had a stout defense. Gig Harbor allowed seven goals in the first 12 games of the season and just 14 total in the last two seasons. That’s helped the Tides finish third in the state in 2017 and fifth last season.
To replace him for that three-game stretch, Ross moved Jordan Dowd into the lineup to pair with the other center back, Alex Torres. The Tides went 1-0-2 without Kinney while surrendering four goals.
When Kinney returned, Ross decided to change up the lineup in order to address a need for more offense and to take advantage of Kinney’s skills. With three goals and two assists on the season, Ross thought Kinney could be a factor as an outside back.
Plus, outside back is the position Kinney is going to play next season in college for San Francisco State.
“We’ve had such a hard time scoring this season,” Ross said. “We’re getting good 2-on-1, 1-versus-1 opportunities and struggle to get the ball in the net. When Logan came back from his injury, I had to get a little creative and we put him on the outside since he’s going to be playing there in college. I figured, ‘Why not. Let’s try it out.’ ”
In the four games in the new formation, Gig Harbor went 3-1, scoring nine goals while giving up three.
“I really like outside back,” Kinney said. “I used to play it a lot before I switched to center back. I’ve been working well with (teammates) Jacob (Cronk) and Nate (Jones). They’ve been helping me with that and it’s been good.”
For Torres, not having Kinney next to him was a bit of an adjustment considering he had played with him since seventh grade. Any concerns that the injury changed how Kinney played was quickly satisfied in a game against North Thurston last week.
“He was playing left back and he was getting into it with this winger on the right side,” Torres said.
“Off the field, he’s a nice guy and really fun to be around but on the field he’s an animal and no one gets past him.”