Falcon soccer offense held scoreless by Red Wolves

Cameron Coupe pushes the ball upfield and away from South Whidbey’s goal as Cedarcrest senior Zach Wilhelm chases. South Whidbey lost 1-0 and dropped its record to 2-3 in Cascade Conference games. - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Cameron Coupe pushes the ball upfield and away from South Whidbey’s goal as Cedarcrest senior Zach Wilhelm chases. South Whidbey lost 1-0 and dropped its record to 2-3 in Cascade Conference games.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

LANGLEY — The South Whidbey boys soccer defense held for 78 minutes.

Unfortunately, the first two minutes were all Cedarcrest needed for a 1-0 victory.

“For us to hold them to one [goal], I thought it was great,” said South Whidbey head coach Joel Gerlach. “It could have been us that got that one.”

Gerlach’s defensive co-captain said the Falcons (2-0-3 Cascade Conference; 4-0-3 overall) were unprepared.

“Honestly, I just don’t think we came prepared,” said South Whidbey co-captain Dean Freundlich.

“I know I wasn’t in the game as much as I should have been.

I guess I didn’t warm up well enough and didn’t come out prepared,” he said. “I think that’s true for a lot of my teammates.”

Cedarcrest’s offense controlled the ball for much of the game and got off 15 shots on goal.

South Whidbey’s reserve goalkeeper, Garrett Thompson, had at least 10 saves. The Falcon junior was scored on by Cedarcrest’s CJ Mowry in the second minute. Cedarcrest improved to three wins,  zero draws and two losses in conference (3-1-2 overall).

“We gave up that early goal,” Freundlich said. “We just didn’t have it together to put one in the back of the net.”

“It was just us being flat-footed,” Freundlich added.

Thompson was in for senior co-captain TJ Russell, who served a one-game suspension after receiving a red card the previous game.

“[Thompson] did awesome,” Gerlach said. “On short notice, to come in and play that good of a game and make all those quality saves, I’m real proud of him.”

The game became testy after several tripping and pushing fouls. No cards were issued, though Falcon co-captain Pat Myatt received a verbal warning from the field umpire for vocalizing his displeasure with missed calls.

“I thought it was about average as far as the conference goes,” Gerlach said of the physicality.

“I mean, [Cedarcrest] is a good team, they’re a physical bunch of guys. I thought my team did pretty well standing up to them, short of that mental lapse in the first minute.”

All of the fouls were punctuated by Falcon senior co-captain Dean Freundlich sending three different Red Wolves to the grass during loose-ball collisions. Freundlich, playing with a sprained right ankle, stayed on his feet and played every minute.

“It was one of the more physical ones, so far,” Freundlich said. “It wasn’t really bad; it was kind of a normal game.”

The second consecutive loss was again credited, at least in part, to poor preparation.

“We come out here and we warm up, but we don’t really warm up,” Freundlich said. “We’ve got to come out and actually be sweating by the time the game comes around.”

South Whidbey was on spring break this past week, and Freundlich said the Falcons need to keep their heads in the game.

“We need to show up and not be thinking about what’s happening outside of soccer,” Freundlich said. “We just need to show up and be talking about soccer and soccer only.”

Cedarcrest played without six teammates on its 20-player roster. Red Wolves head coach Zack Pittis said the absent players were vacationing during spring break. Gerlach said before the game he hoped the short-staffed team would tire the Red Wolves and give the Falcons an advantage.

“Against a team like this, you can’t take them lightly,” Gerlach said, “even when they’re on spring break.”

Gerlach said South Whidbey’s backup goalie was one positive takeaway from Tuesday’s loss.

“He made some incredible saves,” Gerlach said. “The way he restarted the ball was really good. He did better than I anticipated.

I feel confident now that if our starting goalie gets injured, we’re not going backwards.”

Noah Moeller pulled a groin muscle early in the first half and sat the rest of the game. Moeller’s injury hindered the offense’s ability to push the ball upfield.

“A lot of the offense comes through him first,” Gerlach said. “That was a big loss.”

Gerlach kept Moeller out of the game to rest him for Friday’s match with King’s.

Gerlach said he plans to work on offensive patterns and drill the plays until they become “second- nature.” That, in theory, should alleviate some of the offense’s pressure from Myatt and Moeller.

One factor Gerlach was unready to coach was the team’s self-described lack of mental and physical preparation.

“It’s bothering me, because today we talked about it before the game,” Gerlach said. “It’s a little tougher when you’re on spring break, because they have all this free time and they’re not focused.”

Gerlach said he will consider requiring players to arrive earlier for home games to better prepare and focus them.

“We definitely need to be ready to go at the beginning of the game,” Gerlach said. “It seems like today we really got focused right after we got scored on, and that’s too late.” 

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