Falcons fly into final four

"Emily Bartlett chases down the ball early in Saturday's quarterfinal game.Jim Larsen / staff photosWhen a soccer team runs out of regulation playing time and overtimes, the responsibility for winning a game falls directly upon the shoulders of just one player, the goalkeeper.Having exhausted two overtimes and facing a shootout against Washougal Saturday afternoon in the state 2A quarterfinals at Mariner's Goddard Stadium, the South Whidbey girls soccer team needed goal keeper Kellie Horn to be better than just solid. Better than good. Even better than really good. They needed a miracle.She gave them two.Horn stopped two of four Washougal penalty shots while Falcon strikers Shannon Skouras, Jaci Gutzmer, Jennifer Barrow, and Jaime Dunsmore scored four against Washougal's Emilie Gooding, sealing a 1-0 win and sending South Whidbey into a semifinals game against Naches Friday.It was a white knuckle finale for a game that Falcon assistant coach Mike Cotton said was tooth and nail from the opening whistle. In the early going, it seemed the Falcons might not be able to stay close as Washougal's strikers pinned the ball into the South Whidbey zone on Goodard Stadium's fast artificial turf. But not much got past the Falcon defense and sweeper Lindsey Binford. And nothing got past Horn. The sophomore made 12 saves during the game to hold Washougal scoreless.In the second half, the momentum shifted. It was the Falcons' turn to roost in Washougal's zone. Junior midfielder Jaci Gutzmer became Washougal's worst nightmare during the half, stopping a number of their offensive pushes cold. Junior Jennifer Barrow, along with fellow strikers Claudia Gil-Osorio, Dail Bates, and Jaime Dunsmore, kept the pressure high, but were not able to score.Two 5-minute overtimes followed regulation play, but they only extended the stalemate. Moving to a shootout, the teams stayed equal through two shots on goal each, deadlocked at 2-2 with Gutzmer and Shannon Skouras scoring. That is when Horn blocked her first shot. With that opporunity open, Jennifer Barrow made certain it was not wasted and promptly scored a third Falcon penalty kick for the go-ahead and winning goal. Horn made a second save, then Jaime Dunsmore put the game out of reach, scoring the Falcons' fourth and final shootout goal.Coach Cotton said he was both amazed and relieved when the game was over.Boy, they were tough, he said of the Washougal team.Now qualified for a state semifinal game, the Falcons will play Naches at noon Friday at Federal Way Stadium. Naches beat Ephrata 2-0 in a quarterfinal game early this week to advance to the semifinals. Cotton said the Falcon girls will spent the week practicing for Friday's game, working on their turf skills on the fast, artificial surface in the Langley Middle School auxiliary gymnasium, known best as The Cooler.If the Falcons win Friday, they will play in the 2A state championship game Saturday against the winner of the East Valley-Klahowya game. That game starts at 4 p.m. If they lose, they will play the third-fourth place game against the loser of the East Valley-Klahowya contest. That game starts at 10 a.m. Both games will be played in Federal Way Stadium.For directions to the stadium, call the athletic department at South Whidbey High School, 221-4300. "

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