Wildcat’s dive stops Myatt’s free kick for a Falcon loss

Dean Freundlich (20) tracks a header from Sean Ryan (10). Thomas White (24) cuts off Wildcat senior Stephen Briede.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Dean Freundlich (20) tracks a header from Sean Ryan (10). Thomas White (24) cuts off Wildcat senior Stephen Briede.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

EVERETT — Pat Myatt’s kick was in the right spot.

So was Archbishop Murphy junior goalkeeper Jordan Trinka.

Myatt had a free kick after a penalty was called on Archbishop Murphy. South Whidbey’s senior midfielder and co-captain lined up on the inside of the ball. He approached and whipped his leg hard on the outside. The ball curved and wound its way around the right side of a three-man wall. It curved from the right post to the left post about 6 feet in the air.

Trinka dove and with the tips of his outstretched fingers caught the ball and saved Murphy’s win.

“That was a phenomenal save by that guy,” said Falcon head coach Joel Gerlach. “Most guys are not going to make that save. I thought it was in.”

Archbishop Murphy won 1-0 at Everett Memorial Stadium in the final regular season game for both teams on Saturday.

In the first half, Myatt had three shots on goal before the Wildcats scored the game’s only goal.

The Wildcats pressured South Whidbey’s defense. Wildcats senior midfielder Sean Ryan’s shot on goal was saved by a diving TJ Russell.

Then, Wildcats junior defender Aidan Huggins header was knocked out of the box to sophomore defender Cobi Weyers.

“If I can’t get to a ball, they just head it out,” Russell said of Falcon defenders Connor McCauley, Andrew Holt, Cameron Coupe and Dean Freundlich.

Weyers booted the ball on a high kick that sailed into the back of the net in the 27th minute.

“They got lucky on that goal,” Russell said. “It was a goal that I couldn’t stop, and our defense was overloaded.”

Russell had 13 saves and allowed one goal. The Wildcats won the previous meeting 5-0.

“Mentally, you can look at this as a win, because the first time we played them it was 5-0,” Gerlach said. “Today, 1-0.”

“I think we started working a lot more,” Russell said of the difference between the two games. “Now we’re holding teams that are supposed to be in first place to 1-0. That feels pretty darn good.”

Myatt saw other differences, especially on offense.

“Us, as a team, we played better,” Myatt said. “We moved the ball around, everyone’s getting touches. We just played better.”

Gerlach attributed the changes to players’ returns and attitudes.

“We’re really getting our players back, and these guys are peaking at the right time,” Gerlach said. “Their attitude has changed. We knew the first time, part of the reason we didn’t do well, was because we mentally weren’t prepared for that game.”

South Whidbey again played without its top scorer, junior forward Noah Moeller (concussion).

“It hurts us a little bit,” Gerlach said of Moeller’s absence. “Everybody has just stepped up to do their part.”

Archbishop Murphy was aggressive offensively as South Whidbey’s defense bent but didn’t break. The Wildcats had nine shots on goal in the second half. On one play, Ryan dribbled past Freundlich. South Whidbey’s senior defender and co-captain sprinted to get in front of Ryan and slowed down to steal the ball until Ryan was whistled for a shoving foul.

“Connor [McCauley] and Dean  [Freundlich] have been getting better and better at switching back and forth,” Gerlach said.

The team had a short turnaround before its next game. South Whidbey played a tiebreaker and defeated Sultan 3-2 in a triple overtime shootout on Monday, May 2.

“We definitely have a lot more confidence,” Myatt said.

Momentum swung for South Whidbey, in spite of the 1-0 loss to Archbishop.

“If we see them one more time toward the end of the tournament, I know we’ll win,” Gerlach said.

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