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Wildcats finish Falcon soccer’s season in 5-0 victory
A 0-5 loss wasn’t the way South Whidbey wanted to ends its season.
Losing on a Saturday with a short-staffed team was regrettable, too. It was the third Saturday game for the Falcon girls soccer team, and the second weekend match against Archbishop Murphy.
“Both times we played Archbishop, we’ve struggled to get players out for it,” said Falcon head coach Ben Rusch.
The contest between the third place Wildcats and the sixth place Falcons was about the people who weren’t there, more than those who were.
Rusch, in his first-year as the Falcons’ head coach, had 12 players. A soccer team plays with 11 on the field and South Whidbey usually has 19 on varsity, which meant there was only one substitute and lots of tired Falcons.
“We had players that we needed, and there were no subs really,” Rusch said. “Saturday games — there’s no energy to them. It’s raining out, it’s Saturday and they’re playing against the team that’s third in the league.”
To fill the substitute role, Rusch promoted freshman Carlie Newman from the junior varsity squad. Wildcats varsity coach Shannon Murray did not make the trip due to an appointment scheduled prior to his hiring at Archbishop Murphy.
With the personnel on the field, Archbishop (10-4 in Cascade Conference, 12-4 overall) again outplayed South Whidbey (4-10, 6-10). In the previous meeting, the Wildcats won 8-0 in Everett. The Falcons again failed to score against the Wildcats at Waterman Field on Saturday.
“I’m not sure there’s much we could have done differently to get a goal,” Rusch said. “Basically, you have to sacrifice defense for offense.”
The Falcons’ leaders saw improvement in the second game against the Wildcats. Rusch noted the play of his forwards in the middle of the field which won more possessions and his defenders’ tackles as points of improvement.
“We, as a team, played our hardest,” said Falcon senior defender Amanda Lutsock. “Even though we lost, we played better than we had the first time.”
For 30 minutes, the game was scoreless. In the swing of a leg, the Wildcats scored en masse.
“Confidence got down a little bit and then they scored more,” Rusch said.
Though Falcon junior goalkeeper Ellie Greene allowed five goals, the coach praised the player for her 15 saves.
Falcon senior forward Makenzie Peterson, a two-time co-captain, was pleased by the first 30 minutes of the match.
“We did well, especially the first 30 minutes of the game when it was 0-0,” she said. “It hasn’t been like that for a while.”
“Once they score one, it’s hard to get back from even one (goal) when it’s Archbishop.”
At the halftime break, the Wildcats led 4-0 and finished the match 5-0. Fatigue from lack of substitutions hit the Falcons in the second half, with little relief.
“They were tired, but I had no subs,” Rusch said.
South Whidbey missed the playoffs for the third consecutive year. The Falcons, however, improved their conference record from two wins last season to four, which Rusch said was because of the four seniors he had.
“We’re definitely losing some key players,” he said. “The seniors knew it was their last game. They just wanted to have fun and play hard.”
The players said Rusch’s enthusiasm and coaching style helped unite the team.
“It was the best team that I ever played for. I’m sad that it’s over,” Peterson said. “It was a great group of girls and Ben’s a good coach. He taught us a lot as a team.”
Added Lutsock, “I think we’ve left the program on a high note. We’ve been good influences on (the younger players). We showed them that they need to try to do their best and that it’s rewarding to do so.”