Soccer team shoots for state

"It just keeps getting better and better for the South Whidbey girls soccer team, and this year there may be no stopping the Falcons in their quest for their first-ever district and state playoff spots.Under first-year coach Paul Arand, the Falcons compiled their best record ever last season, posting 5 wins in a 16-game schedule. It wasn't good enough to get them to the playoffs, but it was perfect preparation for the 2000 North Cascades Conference season.Our girls have the talent to be in one of the top four positions in the conference at the end of the season, which is good enough to play for a state playoff spot, Arand said.The only negative at the start of this season is the big hole the graduates of the Class of 2000 left behind. Seven varsity-level seniors -- Crystal Campbell, Anna Cruchon, Kimberly Larsen, Colleen Mulcahy, Shaija Romey, Alexis Stark, and Rachael Waymire -- left the team at the end of last season.But there is plenty of new talent to more than fill that hole. Last year's freshmen, sophomores, and juniors will probably make a better run through the season than the Falcons did in 1999. Leading the way offensively will be last season's top scorer, Jaci Gutzmer, who put away seven goals to help boost the team to its best season record ever. Sophomore Shannon Skouras returns to the team with similar credentials, having scored six goals in 1999. Both Skouras and Gutzmer were honorable mention all conference players that year. Senior forward Jamie Dunsmore is also in the scoring mix, having chalked up four goals last year.On defense, all conference sweeper Lindsey Binford returns to the team for a third year, as does fullback Deanne Waterman, who was named second team all-conference in 1999. They are the core of what could be the fastest defensive backfield in the district. Backing them up are senior wing Dail Bates, who was the fastest 100 yard dash runner for the Falcon track team last spring, and quick-footed sophomore Michelle Schorr.In goal, the Falcons have talent, talent, talent. Arand said he will have a hard time deciding who will play in the net in the majority of this year's varsity games. Sophomore goalie Kellie Horn, junior goalie Emily Bartlett, and junior goalie Stephanie Jacobson will all battle for the position.Other up and comers Arand said show promise are defensive stopper Kim Julius, junior forward Jennifer Barrow and sophomore forward Amy Barrow. The Barrow sisters were the leading scorers on last year's 8-6-3 JV team.In addition to the players he coached last year, Arand said he has met with 12 incoming freshmen and expects to see five more at tryouts.The Falcons will need all the scoring and defense they can muster, because the NCC is one of the toughest 2A soccer conferences in the state. Arand said it will be a battle for the conference championship and the best playoff spots.I think that Granite Falls, Lynden Christian, and Meridian will be our toughest opponents next year, Arand said. Last season, we lost to conference champion Granite Falls by one goal in an overtime shootout. Our team is anxious to win that type of game this year.Meridian returns to the field with two talented sophomores, Katie and Jennifer Johnson, as well as senior Samantha Roslar. Blaine and Sultan, both of which boasted winning programs last year, are out of the running this year after losing the best players to graduation. On the other hand, Lakewood could be the surprise of the NCC season, having lost only one player to graduation. Still they may struggle, since the team's head coach quit after last season. Another team the Falcons cannot ignore is Mariner, which comes back in 2000 with 12 returning varsity players, including talented junior midfielder Michelle Desimone.South Whidbey has to shore up its own coaching ranks. While Arand and goalie coach Joel Gerlach are back this season, the team has yet to name a replacement for last seasons's JV coach Bill McCabe. McCabe cannot return to the team due to work-related scheduling conflicts.The 18-or-so JV players expected to turn out Aug. 21 do need a coach, Arand said, since they are the teams future varsity players.I expect our JV team to be very strong, Arand said. The ninth grade girls have been successful playing club soccer and I expect that success to continue.The Falcons play their first game on Sept. 7. It will be a home contest against LaConner. "

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