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Moeller bags hat trick in 3-0 win over Granite Falls
Facing a possible five-game losing streak, South Whidbey was ready for the second half of the season.
The Falcon boys soccer team used its speed and size to overpower the Granite Falls Tigers, 3-0.
The Falcons also used junior forward Noah Moeller, who scored all three of South Whidbey’s goals.
“Hopefully we can get back on track,” Moeller said. “It was nice getting three goals.”
Moeller repeated his previous performance against Granite Falls (0-0-8 Cascade Conference; 0-1-9 overall), when he also scored three goals in the early season 8-2 victory.
On Wednesday, the first goal came early, just like the previous meeting. Moeller scored in the fourth minute on an assist from sophomore midfielder Darby Hayes. The second goal was in the 19th minute on an assist from senior co-captain Pat Myatt. The third and final goal was on a chip pass from Myatt, past two Tigers defenders, and Moeller scored on a one-on-one with Tigers goalie Joey Best in the 73rd minute.
“We connected better today,” said South Whidbey head coach Joel Gerlach. “Our passing and control was better.”
“[Moeller] is an amazing athlete,” Gerlach added. “He has great control, great attitude.”
Despite a shutout win, Gerlach said the team’s inability to finish goals within 10 yards bothered him.
“We had a lot of chances, so we’ll keep working on that.”
South Whidbey (3-0-5; 4-0-5) was outscored 11-0 in its four-game losing streak. Until Wednesday’s game, the Falcons had not scored a goal in April.
Gerlach also said his team’s defense needs work. More like the Falcon defense is under renovation. Two starting senior defenders, Dean Freundlich and Thomas White, were both out with the flu.
“Dean’s a pretty big miss when he’s gone. So I don’t think we’re going to adapt to him being gone, not too soon.”
Players said they expected Freundlich to return for Friday’s game against Sultan.
“We showed today we can play with the guys that we’ve got,” Gerlach said. “A win — it feels good. And it’s a good way to get restarted.”
Injuries and illness struck South Whidbey again. Senior Miles Goodman walked off the field clutching his forearm after he slid to disrupt a Tigers’ offensive break in the 70th minute. Goodman left the game to have a doctor evaluate his injury, which Gerlach said was a dislocated shoulder.
“That’s going to be tough, because there’s another starter who’s probably out for a couple of weeks,” Gerlach said.
It was another stalwart performance for South Whidbey’s goalkeeper, senior TJ Russell, who had 10 saves.
During one Tigers’ push, Russell punched out a shot on goal right to a Tiger forward, then caught another shot on goal to reset the Falcon offense.
In the previous losses, Gerlach and the team co-captains said a lack of focus and bad attitudes were partially to blame. On Wednesday, Gerlach said the team began to piece together its ego and self-esteem.
“It’s something we talked about at practice,” Gerlach said. “Even if you get down a goal, you can get back. But, if you break down mentally, then the match is over.”
A shutout win offered inspiration to the broken-winged Falcons.
“I’m hoping it will give us definitely more momentum and keep us winning,” Moeller said, “to get back that enthusiasm that we lost a bit.”
South Whidbey is on the edge of elimination from the playoffs with a 3-5 conference record.
Gerlach said Friday’s rematch against Sultan (4-0-4; 4-0-5) was crucial to making the playoffs. It may also be important for the team’s morale and momentum.
“But it’s also important because we really feel when we played them, we were the better team,” Gerlach said.
Sultan won the previous meeting 1-0 at Sultan High School with a goal in the last two minutes.
“It would be terrible to lose to them,” Moeller said.