Sports

Divine intervention

Center midfielder Jesus Duque does what he does best — keeping the ball away from opponents (in this case North Kitsap’s Bryce Darrow)while trying to find an open forward downfield. - Photo by Rogerick Anas
Center midfielder Jesus Duque does what he does best — keeping the ball away from opponents (in this case North Kitsap’s Bryce Darrow)while trying to find an open forward downfield.
— image credit: Photo by Rogerick Anas

He was known as “the Savior” his freshman year at Bremerton High School.

Then, the nickname became “Jesus.”

Now, both students and staff mainly call him “Zeus.”

Although center midfielder Jesus Duque’s first name is pronounced “Hey-soos,” his freshman soccer teammates and school peers have a tough time not making the divine connection.

“It doesn’t really bother me,” Duque said with a smile and a shrug.

Born of a Columbian father and Peruvian mother, the boy with long curly locks was given the common Hispanic name of his dad’s uncle.

Just like the Biblical Jesus that could walk on water, Duque has his own show of miracles on the soccer field in the game he started playing at the age of four.

He is a cool, mellow leader, nominated as captain for two years in a row by his coach Lance McCoy for his sterling athleticism and team play.

“His ball handling and foot skills are some of the best in the League,” McCoy said. “In a game he plays with incredible intensity. And, he keeps his teammates relaxed. He can crack a joke or a smile.”

At 5-foot-5, Duque is regularly bruised by his bigger opponents. By being smaller, he has learned to fight for a ball without getting stepped on.

“I get knocked down a lot,” he said, noting it happens about 10 times a game on average.

The pain also comes from within as Duque has had to deal with painful shin splints for the past couple of seasons.

He’s also broken bones in his ankle once. He has sprained his ankles numerous times. He has been cut by cleats. He has taken his share of knees to the thigh — the blows that produce deep bruises.

“He has the attitude that you know you are going to get knocked down, but he doesn’t react by cheap-shotting everybody,” McCoy said. “The great players understand that.”

Duque is a relaxed invidividal both on the field and off. “Goofy,” as he describes himself.

“Zeus is a funny guy,” said his teammate Thomas Blyverket, an exchange student from Norway. “He makes jokes at practice. When you make mistakes he doesn’t get angry. He just tells you to do better. He’s a good captain.”

Duque has played on the varsity lineup for all four years of high school, and still before North Kitsap regained its composure and kept the ball in scoring position the rest of the game.

“It is just frustrating because you start the season off well, but in games we just give up for about five minutes, and then by then it is too late,” said Bremerton’s Kyle Johnson, who assisted both of Blyverket’s goals. For the first goal, it was Johnson’s 25 yard kick that smacked the cross bar and bounced in front of Blyverket that set up the score.

“We’ve just got to keep our short game going, not let it slow down,” Johnson said, shaking his head.

“They outhustled us to the ball,” BHS coach Lance McCoy added.

“They wanted it more than we did. We got into a hole.”

McCoy, like the rest of the team, was fuming and frustrated because they lost a game they believed they should have won.

“We were fighting for a playoff berth and we just blew it,” he said.

The road hasn’t been smooth for the Knights since winning their first three games. They’ve gone 1-6-1 in the past eight games, though it’s still a remarkable comeback for a team that didn’t win in 2002.

A win on Tuesday could have vastly improved the Knights’ chances and moved then into fifth in the Bridge Division standings. Instead they are in sixth place behind Port Angeles.

“We’ve been talking about (the game) all week,” McCoy said. “They always play best when they are relaxed and just out to have fun.”

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