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Coupeville conquers rival South Whidbey in boys soccer shootout
LANGLEY — About 100 minutes and a couple of inches determined the boys soccer match Friday night between island rival schools Coupeville and South Whidbey.
At the end of the rain-soaked defensive bout, Coupeville’s players ran into each other’s arms, jumping up and down on the muddy Waterman Field after a 1-0 shootout victory. The Wolves had claimed their first Cascade Conference victory. The Falcons had suffered their first loss of the year.
South Whidbey lost the extra period match on its seventh kick in the shootout. Stephen Lyons, a Falcon junior forward, sent his shot low into the air and straight into the right post, where it bounced out. It was a match where Coupeville outlasted South Whidbey, which had two missed kicks to the Wolves’ one.
“I thought we did good. There’s always going to be one or two blocks or misses in a game,” said Falcon junior midfielder Connor McCauley. “They just got lucky.”
“It’s really tough. I always hate losing to Coupeville.”
In the first half, South Whidbey missed out on its early shots. Within the first two minutes, the Falcons had a shot on goal. Falcon senior forward Noah Moeller broke open for a one-on-one with the Wolves’ goalie senior Zach Forland, but Moeller’s shot rolled past the left post.
“The defense didn’t seem too strong, we just didn’t connect and get a good opportunity (to score),” Moeller said.
Coupeville responded with a string of attacks on South Whidbey’s defense. A slide by Falcon senior defender Sam Lee stopped a break by the Wolves’ junior Dylan Tack, who had a shot on goal a few minutes later that was scooped up by the Falcons’ senior goalie Garret Thomson.
Moeller opened the second half with another close miss. The Falcons’ leading scorer with eight goals on the season sent the ball high into the crossbar, where it bounced out of bounds.
“The first half and the second half, I think it’s our mids. And I’m not trying to take blame off of me, because I played mid in the first half,” McCauley said. “What we did on defense was we all packed way too far back, which didn’t give us any offense. As soon as they kicked the ball up, it would just come right back down.”
The Wolves had a flurry of shots in the final minutes of regulation. Thomson saved a 15-yard free kick by Wolf junior defender Josh Wilsey.
“We had more opportunities than they did,” said Falcon head coach Joel Gerlach. “Zero goals in regulation, so our goalkeeper still has a shutout.”
Thomson’s streak of saves continued in the five-minute bonus periods, too. In the opening period, Wolf freshman Jeremy Copenhaver took a shot in front of the goal that was saved by Thomson.
In the shootout, Coupeville struck first in the alternating-kick shootout. The Wolves’ first kicker, Wilsey, shot into the left corner of the net.
The Falcons’ first attempt by senior midfielder Jimmy Price soared past Forland, the Wolves’ goalkeeper.
The third Wolf try, by junior defender Luke Pelant, missed to the right.
McCauley’s kick counted, and South Whidbey’s players and fans erupted in cheers of jubilation.
The Wolves got a boost when Falcon junior midfielder Guy Sparkman’s kick was stopped by Forland after he tipped it off the left post.
Wolf senior defender Taylor Phillips, a co-captain, scored.
South Whidbey junior midfielder Sam Turpin, sidelined for much of the second half, booted in the penalty kick to extend the shootout.
For the seventh shot, Wolf senior midfielder David Hefflinger’s shot got past Thomson’s fingertips and sailed into the back of the net.
Then, Lyons missed his mark by a couple of inches.
“It’s a good lesson to be learned that we should have gotten a goal in regulation and not go into a shootout,” Gerlach said.
Going into the rivalry match, South Whidbey’s offense had displayed some punch. Through three conference contests, the Falcons had tallied 12 goals and remained perfect on defense with zero goals allowed. Coupeville, however, had struggled against the league’s top teams in Archbishop Murphy, Cedarcrest and King’s and scored only two goals, both against King’s.
“I didn’t think we were going to roll through Coupeville,” Moeller said. “We definitely underestimated them.”
The loss highlighted one of South Whidbey’s lingering issues from last year’s team, and from previous matches. The Falcons again came out flat on offense for the first 40 minutes.
“We definitely started too slow,” Moeller said.
Pouring rain made for difficult passing, especially on long kicks. Both teams struggled with sending the ball from the middle to the goal box. South Whidbey’s coach admitted the field conditions were only part of the his team’s problems.
“It’s a tough field to play on,” Gerlach said. “They played a really good defense. They had like nine guys behind the ball. We couldn’t figure out how to separate them out.”
South Whidbey faced a tough stretch against the conference’s perennial powers during its spring break. The Falcons traveled to Duvall to face the Cedarcrest Red Wolves on Tuesday and host the King’s Knights on Friday.