Three wins clinch state showdown for soccer team

"Sophomore Amy Barrow battles a Nooksack player for the ball during a Falcon win Saturday.Matt Johnson / staff photoAt the start of the season, Falcon soccer coach Paul Arand said he would be happy if his girls made it into the playoffs.If they win one more game Tuesday, they'll be going to state.This week, the Falcons won their last three North Cascades Conference games of the season to place second behind NCC champion Lakewood. The result sets up a Halloween showdown that will send the winner to state. It is the same scenario the boys soccer team had last spring, when it placed second behind Lynden Christian. The Falcons beat the Lyncs and went on to place second in state.After a week of great play, Arand is hoping for the same. His girls downed Nooksack Valley on Saturday, Lynden Christian on Tuesday, and Granite Falls Thursday. Only Lakewood stands in the Falcons' way. Having split two close games with the Cougars this year, Arand said the Falcons want to win Tuesday.On Saturday, the Falcons played their last home game under a rare autumn sun. They edged Nooksack Valley 2-1 in a tight, back-and-forth game. In the first half, former junior varsity player Claudia Gil-Osario blasted solo through the defense to win a one-on-one with Nooksack's goalkeeper, putting the Falcons up 1-0.The Falcon's second goal came early in the second half on a Jaci Gutzmer free kick from the sidelines. Nooksack's goalkeeper prepared for the shot by covering the middle of the net. Gutzmer kicked for the side and the shot floated into the goal untouched. Her coach, Paul Arand, was impressed.I'm surprised they fooled their keeper with that one, Arand said.Tuesday's game was not as close. Although the Lyncs played tough, Shannon Skouras took advantage for two goals, while Jaci Gutzmer and Claudia Gil-Osario added one each to put the game away. Two days later, Skouras was still in fine scoring form, scoring two more goals against Granite Falls to lead the Falcons to a 5-1 victory.Arand said the win was one of the easiest his team has had this year. He and his players do not expect the same treatment when they travel to Lakewood's dirt field Tuesday.I'm kind of surprised they did as poorly as they did, he said of Granite Falls.The Falcons finish the regular season with a record of 11-5 and 6-2 in the NCC. Tuesday's game starts at 3:30 p.m. "

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