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Super soccer girls third at state

"South Whidbey High School soccer coach Paul Arand holds his team's trophy overhead as his girls are named the third-place champions at Saturday's state soccer finals in Federal Way. The Falcons beat Klahowya in a 1-0 nailbiter to bring home state hardware. Matt Johnson staff photoFor the first time in seven years, South Whidbey High School's girl soccer players have left themselves almost no room for improvement.On Saturday, the Falcons capped a dream season, winning a 1-0 game against Klahowya to place third in the WIAA 2A state soccer tournament. It was a result no other South Whidbey team that has come before could have imagined, and one that this year's team only entertained as fantasy early this season.To accomplish their dream, the Falcons had to play impossibly well. Playing in Federal Way on Friday and Saturday, the team had to weather both success and disappointment on its way to its third place finish.On Friday, the Falcons lost a 2-0 contest to Naches in a semifinal game. Although the contest was even through most of 90 minutes, two early scores from Naches proved to be the margin. Falcon coach Paul Arand said his girls played well, but just did not get any scoring opportunities.I think we were a little surprised how strong they were, Arand said.Naches went on to lose the state championship game 1-0 against East Valley-Yakima Saturday. The Falcons, on the other hand, had better luck against Klahowya. Facing the Kitsap Peninsula team for the second time in four games, the Falcons looked to avenge a 4-3 loss to Klahowya two weeks ago in a state seeding game. Going in, Coach Arand knew his girls needed to do two things -- score and shut down Klahowya striker Hilary Crisman. Crisman had two late goals against the Falcons in their last meeting and racked up 31 goals this season. To keep her under control, Arand marked her with defender Emily Bartlett and surrounded her with double and triple coverage the whole game.In the early going, the strategy worked perfectly. With Crisman contained, the South Whidbey offense made constant forays into Klahowya territory. One of those forays paid off. Twenty minutes into the game with a Falcon corner kicker waiting for a whistle from the referee, freshman striker Claudia Gil-Osorio threaded her way to the Klahowya goal. When the corner kick floated in, Gil-Osorio leapt for the ball head first, sending it past Klahowya's goalkeeper and a defender for the first and only score of the game.Gil-Osorio said her header succeeded thanks to one element.Perfect timing, I guess, Gil-Osorio said. As often happens, the goal set the opponent's offense into high gear. Klahowya knocked the Falcon defense back onto its heels almost immediately, driving into the South Whidbey zone over and over for the remainder of the half. Near the end of the period, Klahowya scoring ace Hilary Crisman broke out of the midfield and made a beeline for the goal. Twenty yards out, she dodged Emily Bartlett and charged for a one-on-one with Falcon goalkeeper Kelly Horn.But with just 10 yards to go, Crisman's goal rush blew to pieces when Falcon sweeper Lindsey Binford -- who was 15 yards away from the action when the breakaway developed -- sprinted in to kick the ball away. The play was a gamesaver. It also completely deflated Crisman.We knew she could explode at any time, coach Arand said.Klahowya threatened only two more times during the game. With 11 minutes remaining in the second half, a Klahowya striker nailed the crossbar over the Falcon net with a shot that went too high. The rebound went right back and Klahowya shot again. This time, Kellie Horn caught the ball on a high leap, preventing the goal.I didn't think I was high enough to get it, Horn said after the game.Six minutes later, Klahowya defender Jennifer Beal broke loose and made another scoring charge. Falcon sophomore Michelle Schorr was the only defender close by. She ran Beal down and kicked the ball away before she could take a shot.And then, it was over. As the Falcons celebrated on the sidelines, Osorio and Horn got high-fives, while Schorr was swung in a circle through the air by her teammates. Coach Arand said the game was one of the best of the season.It's been the story of our season. We've improved all the time, he said.The Falcons end the season with a 14-7 record and a third place state trophy. "

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