Wildcats pounce on falling Falcon boys soccer squad

Falcon senior forward Noah Moeller cracks cleats with Wildcat sophomore defender Robert Hines as they both swung at the ball on Friday.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Falcon senior forward Noah Moeller cracks cleats with Wildcat sophomore defender Robert Hines as they both swung at the ball on Friday.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

LANGLEY — Any dreams of South Whidbey’s boys soccer team being the David to Archbishop Murphy’s Goliath were quickly dashed Friday night.

The Wildcats jumped to a 3-0 lead at halftime before winning 4-1 overall and ending a perfect regular season Friday at Waterman Field.

“They’re a great team. They’re solid everywhere,” said Falcon junior defender Cameron Coupe.

Archbishop Murphy (14-0 Cascade Conference, 15-0 overall) looked every bit like an undefeated squad. South Whidbey, meanwhile, was a different team than the first match, a 1-0 Wildcat win.

The second time around, the Falcons played without senior goalie Garret Thomson and senior defender Rudi Hamsa. Thomson injured his right knee, which he said may be a torn meniscus, during a match last week against the Cedarcrest Red Wolves. Hamsa, one of South Whidbey’s tallest players and a veteran defender, was away at a band competition.

“It was different playing without Rudi,” Coupe said. “You notice he’s gone.”

The Wildcats seized the advantage and pressed the Falcons’ defense. South Whidbey began the match with possession, but Archbishop Murphy’s relentless midfielders quickly stole it and began their barrage of shots. Wildcat junior mid Joshua Bartley scored the first of his four goals in the seventh minute after he slipped past his defender to the left corner of the box and drilled the ball into the net.

Bartley scored again in the 12th on a header, assisted by senior forward Riley Rayner.

In the 37th, Bartley recorded a hat trick on a solo goal after he dribbled into the box and stuck the shot into the right corner. In one half, Bartley had scored as many goals as any other single team had against South Whidbey.

“The main problem we had was they’d have a guy coming in, dribbling the ball, and we’d have to make a decision to step or let him dribble more, and he’d probably end up shooting it,” Coupe said. “If we stepped, they’d have a person behind us. When we’d leave a spot, they just filled it perfectly.”

Reserve goalie Andrew Holt, a junior who typically plays as a mid and spent last season as a defender, was dejected. After the first goal, he hung his head and loudly reminded his teammates to keep the Wildcats out of the box, challenge the dribble and chase down loose balls.

“I told (Holt) that he did great. The shots that they had were unstoppable,” Coupe said. “He gets down when he gets scored on.”

Frustration quickly spread among the Falcons. What started in the defense made its way to the offense, and by the halftime celebration for Senior Night, smiles were harder to find than the Falcons’ goals.

“It’s never good to play negative. It’s never fun to have people getting down on you,” said Falcon junior forward Stephen Lyons.

The Wildcats continued to pressure with their star starters in the early minutes of the second half. Rayner scored after beating the defense, drawing Holt out of the box and booting in a goal for a 4-0 lead in the 42nd.

South Whidbey got a lift late in the second half. After several near misses, Noah Moeller, the Falcons’ leading scorer, had a close shot. Lyons rocketed a shot from the left side of the box toward the Wildcats’ goal. Senior goalie Jordan Trinka leaped to punch it out, but the shot continued over him and into the goal where Moeller kicked it in for certainty in the 63rd minute.

“They were marking me hard when I was in the center. So we knew we had to get them out wide,” Lyons said.

“When I got close to the goal I just shot it.”

By the amount of cheers from the stands, it might as well have been a game-winning shot. The potential, partial score was admittedly a letdown for Moeller. The senior missed last year’s second match against Archbishop Murphy because of a concussion sustained halfway through the 2011 season, and had looked forward to spoiling the Wildcats’ season.

“I wasn’t as excited as I was hoping I’d be. It’s a goal, and it feels good to get a goal and, at least, not get shut out,” Moeller said.

Archbishop Murphy scored the final goal on a penalty kick from about 15 yards out by Bartley in the 79th minute.

South Whidbey will need to make quick adjustments before the District 1 playoffs. The Falcons advance to the first round of the soccer tournament on the road against the Sehome Mariners (9-2-2 Northwest Conference, 11-2-3 overall) on Saturday, May 5.

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