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Playoff run ends for Falcon soccer team against Storm
LANGLEY — Call it a Thunderdome match.
Two teams enter; one team leaves.
The District 1 playoff game between the South Whidbey Falcons and the Squalicum Storm ended in a 2-0 loss for the home team.
“We couldn’t put it together today,” said South Whidbey head coach Joel Gerlach.
Squalicum sophomore forward Jose Esquivel scored in the 26th minute on an assist by senior forward and co-captain Josh Bramlett. Falcon senior goalie and co-captain TJ Russell said Squalicum played the ball near the sidelines and crossed it to the interior.
“You can’t do anything to stop a shot like that,” Russell said.
Squalicum had seven shots on goal in the first half and finished with 13. The Storm’s offense moved more like a tornado with breaks along the sideline. Most of Squalicum’s shots on goal sailed high or wide, but they only needed a couple to find the net to win.
“The three forwards that we had on today were our main three,” said Squalicum head coach Joe McAuliffe. “We’ve not been able to get every game with them because of injuries. When we have all three of them together it’s special and they got speed.”
The first Falcon shot on goal was a roller from sophomore forward Steve Lyons. Storm goalie Morgan Waidelich scooped it up with both arms five yards out from the goal.
Play became testy after several body bumps and pushes. Falcon freshman forward James Young was given a yellow card after a mid-air body slam on Storm defender Mike Senko, that sent Senko to the sideline until the second half. The warning was the first of three for South Whidbey.
“It was a little more physical game; it was obvious,” Gerlach said.
“Their team could have just as easily had three or four yellows,” he said. “Yellow cards are part of the game. Nothing wrong with that. I don’t encourage it, but when you tackle hard and you’re playing a team that tackles hard, that happens. It’s par for the course.”
The Storm’s second goal came after South Whidbey marked up in an attempt to be offense-oriented. Squalicum took possession from South Whidbey across the midfield line, and it became a two-on-two break.
“They’re fast. They’re really fast,” Gerlach said. “They had a great counter-attack.”
Esquivel ran down the middle as Sergio Millan ran the stadium sideline. He crossed inside and Esquivel kicked it in past Russell.
“I should have had that one,” Russell said. “That’s an easy one that I’ll regret for a while.”
Pat Myatt, Falcon senior midfielder, had the best shot on goal for South Whidbey. In the 68th minute, Myatt moved from the sideline inside toward Squalicum’s goal. Three Squalicum defenders closed in around Myatt. He tapped the top of the ball, faked a pass to his right, spun and shot toward the goal. Waidelich stuck his hands out and punched Myatt’s shot on goal out.
“I think my guys left it all on the field today. They didn’t give up even in the last few seconds of the game. I’m real proud of the way they played today, and the whole season.”
South Whidbey’s defense was busy keeping the Storm at bay. In the first half, Falcon senior defender Dean Freundlich slid to clear the ball as Storm forward Sergio Millan blitzed toward the goal. Millan took a shot on goal
30 yards out that Russell stopped. The play wasn’t over though as Russell ducked to avoid Storm midfielder David Starkovich who jumped over Russell.
“I think we were all just pushing it to the limits,” Freundlich said. “We all knew that if we didn’t win this game, we didn’t move on.”
Freundlich received the second South Whidbey yellow card after a slide on Esquivel in the second half.
“We see a lot of cards in games like this,” McAuliffe said. “I think it’s really just the nature of the game.”
Squalicum’s aggressive, streak-toward-the-goal offense resulted in Russell leaving the game in the 78th minute. Esquivel slid in on Russell who stepped out of the box to grab the ball. His cleat planted on Russell’s hand and bent it in toward his forearm.
“It hurt,” Russell said. “I didn’t want to come out because, like, I still wanted to play and finish out the game.”
Trailing 2-0 and having watched another aggressive hit, Myatt protested with the field official for not issuing a red card. Myatt was then given a yellow card and removed from the game.
“You never want to end your soccer career, or any sports career,” Russell said. “You want to keep playing until you really can’t play anymore. It feels like I can keep on playing my high school career. It’s frustrating that we ended it here.”
Squalicum was the fourth-seeded Northwest Conference team in the district tournament. The Storm won third place and advanced to the state tournament. Over four games, Squalicum scored 11 goals.
“They’re a good team,” Russell said. “But I don’t think that they’re about the hype everyone else is about.”
Squalicum advanced to play Burlington-Edison, and won 2-0. In the third place-to-state/loser out game, Squalicum beat Sehome 4-1.