Sports

Falcons come up short in soccer against Murphy

Falcon goalie TJ Russell rises over teammates Connor McCauley (15) and Noah Moeller to block an inbounds throw. Russell stopped more than 20 shots, but Archbishop Murphy’s offense was too much in a 5-0 loss. - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Falcon goalie TJ Russell rises over teammates Connor McCauley (15) and Noah Moeller to block an inbounds throw. Russell stopped more than 20 shots, but Archbishop Murphy’s offense was too much in a 5-0 loss.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

LANGLEY — A 5-0 loss to Archbishop Murphy was not the outcome South Whidbey’s boys soccer team envisioned two weeks ago.

That was before the Falcons started their four-game losing streak against Coupeville. South Whidbey outscored its opponents 21-3 in its first three games. But in its past four games, South Whidbey was outscored 11-0.

The Wildcats struck early with both the first shot on goal and the first goal.

“They had a good defense,” said South Whidbey head coach Joel Gerlach. “I think in the beginning we were trying to do too much.”

South Whidbey’s senior goalkeeper TJ Russell knew he was in for a busy night in the box.

“I knew we were short-handed so I knew we were going to have a lot of shots,” Russell said.

South Whidbey’s best shots were early in the game. Falcon senior forward Miles Goodman’s shot on goal cleared over the net in the third minute. The Falcons didn’t mark a shot on goal in the second half.

Russell had at least 20 saves.

“Man of the match. He did great,” Gerlach said of Russell. “I think he’s probably the best goalie in the conference.”

Archbishop Murphy led 4-0 at halftime.

“In the second half, once we stopped being intimidated by them, and that’s a good club, we played a lot better,” Gerlach said.

“I’m happy with the way they played in the second half,” Gerlach added, “and the way they recovered mentally from being down on themselves.”

The Wildcats continued their pressure offense, forgoing the traditional keep-away passing game to control the ball and maintain a lead. Russell added three more saves 16 minutes into the second half, all by Wildcats senior forward Alexis Magana.

“It hurts your pride a little bit,” Russell said. “Yeah, it’s frustrating. But, you stop the ones you can.”

South Whidbey senior co-captain Pat Myatt voiced his displeasure with the game’s momentum and his team. After the game he apologized to his teammates and praised their attitudes and efforts.

“The team’s not playing as well as it’s needed to,” Myatt said. “We just have to keep our cool. I’m a big part of that; I need to keep my cool and keep my mouth shut.”

South Whidbey is scoreless in each of its five losses this season. Gerlach and his captains urged patience with the offense. Myatt said he couldn’t explain the offense’s absence.

“We’ll figure that out,” Myatt said. “It’s frustrating, but the goals will come.”

The Falcons’ four-game losing streak and the 2-5 conference record present an uphill battle.

“There’s no need to panic,” Gerlach said. “There [are] just things to work on and do better. When you panic, this happens.”

“We just need to get the ball in the net,” Russell said. “It’s as simple as that.”

South Whidbey allowed only one goal in the second half to freshman Christian Thode.

“I think we figured them out,” Myatt said, “we figured out how we want to play the rest of the year.”

South Whidbey played without senior defender and co-captain Dean Freundlich, who was sidelined with an ankle injury.

“We lost a leader and one of the best players on the team,” Myatt said.

Russell said Freundlich’s absence in the backfield caused him to split his focus on the defenders and the ball. Normally, he said, Russell focuses on the dribbler and the box, and Freundlich positions the defenders.

“You can’t claim just because Dean [Freundlich] wasn’t here, we lost,” Russell said.

The Falcons’ captains blamed a lack of preparation and focus for the past three losses. Myatt said the team was better prepared against Archbishop Murphy.

“We knew who we were playing. They, obviously, were the better team,” Myatt said.

“I think everyone needs to step up our game,” Russell said.

“I mean, we’ve been shut out,

I don’t know, the past how many games. It’s not just our guys that can’t score. Our defense has to step up to give our guys a chance to score.”

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