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Kickers alone atop conference

"Mark Helpenstell had to have a serious talk with his soccer team Friday night.On the bus after a big 3-1 win against Mt. Baker that night, the Falcons were suddenly -- at 5-1 -- the top team in the North Cascades Conference. Exciting as that is, Helpenstell told his players that they are now a marked team in the NCC and are likely to have nothing but tough games the rest of the season. And this time, they have something to protect.We spent a lot of years trying to get here and it's good to be here, Helpenstell said Monday while recounting Friday's game.Even teams like Mt. Baker, which never got its offense going Friday, will be tougher the second time around, Helpenstell said. But last week, at least, they were sitting ducks against the Falcons.The Falcons got their first score 15 minutes into the first half Friday when senior Joseph Supang put the ball past the Mt. Baker goalkeeper on an assist from Lane Richards. For most of the remainder of the period, the Falcons pinned the Mountaineers to their end of the field. But they did escape late in the half, driving to the Falcon goal then scoring in the midst of a goal-line scramble. South Whidbey's goalkeeper, Mike Johnson, got a hand on the ball during the brouhaha, but could not defend against a second shot at the net.The tie did not last long. Seven minutes into the second half, Supang cemented his status as the team's scoring leader, making the team's second score on the night and his sixth of the season. Topi Manu provided the assisting pass. Eighteen minutes later, Kevin Brink and R.J. Erickson put the game away when Brink booted a pass at Erickson's head, sending the ball into the net off the cranial ricochet. Coach Helpenstell said Erickson's goal was a textbook header.He has no hesitation going for the ball, Helpenstell said.The Falcon junior varsity team also had an easy time of it against the Mountaineers, winning 4-0 on the strength of an Eric Salazar hat trick. Adam Jaffe also scored in the game.The Falcons face Lakewood on the road Wednesday, then Meridian at home Friday. Friday's varsity game starts at 7 p.m. at Waterman Field."

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