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Fancy footwork lands Moeller all-conference honor
LANGLEY — Noah Moeller likes working in tight spaces.
Whether he’s under the hood of his Honda CR-X, looking at cells through a microscope or splitting three defenders at Waterman Field, the South Whidbey High School senior soccer player has the know-how and talent to do it well. The latter, which is Moeller’s ability on the soccer pitch, led his Cascade Conference peers to vote him the league’s offensive player of the year, to Moeller’s delight.
“It made me very happy,” he said. “It was a really nice way to end the season.”
South Whidbey’s boys soccer season ended with a loss in the district playoffs. It was a winner-to-state match, and the Falcons fell 1-0 to the Bellingham Red Raiders. Though he ended his prep playing career with a loss, at least Moeller was able to finish a full season. Last year as a junior, Moeller was sidelined halfway through the 2011 season because he suffered two concussions in one season.
There were fears he may have to forgo his senior year, but Moeller knew he would return for the game he played since he was 6 years old, and opted to wear a padded head covering this season.
Joel Gerlach, the Falcons’ head coach, has known Moeller almost since he first dribbled a soccer ball. Gerlach recalled playing pickup games with Moeller and other youngsters on fields around South Whidbey and being impressed with the potential Moeller displayed.
“He sat me down — twice,” Gerlach said.
Those pickup games were fond memories for Moeller, too. The 18-year-old remembered those matches and Gerlach saying he was excited to see Moeller’s development by high school.
“I kept that with me,” Moeller said.
By this 2012 season, Moeller surpassed Gerlach’s expectations. The Falcon senior led his team with 17 goals and 11 assists in 18 matches, often double and triple teamed. One of those goals, his favorite, came on the road against Whidbey Island rival Coupeville. Moeller used his favorite move, the step over, to break free from three Wolves defenders, dribbled to his left and rocketed in a shot with his left foot (he’s a righty). Moves like that continued to awe Gerlach, as well as his competitors.
“Sometimes I had to realize that the best thing to do is to turn him loose,” Gerlach said.
“He could’ve played and started for any other team in the league.”
South Whidbey used Moeller as a focal point on offense. And every team in the conference and district knew it. Opponents double- and triple-teamed and often tasked their best defenders to Moeller. Gerlach said that worked to the Falcons’ advantage, sometimes, as Moeller would be a decoy to shift a defense to one position, while the play was designed to allow another player, like fellow senior and second-leading scorer Jimmy Price, to slip behind the defense.
The beast started his high school career more timid. Moeller, who played forward for the Falcons the past two years, previously envisioned his high school career spent on the wing as a midfielder who streaked down the sideline and chased after long sends and loose balls.
“I never liked to play forward,” Moeller said. “I liked being the one who assisted them.”
Then he found the joy of scoring. And Moeller must have been plenty happy, since he had 17 goals on the year. Some matches proved difficult, though, like both games against Cedarcrest when South Whidbey was kept scoreless.
Moeller has interests beyond soccer, too. For his senior project, he worked on his Honda CR-X, a two-door hatchback that sat dented and ruined on his family’s Langley lawn for a couple of years before he fixed the suspension and alignment; added a front bumper; cleaned out and patched up the interior; put on new rims; and painted it a bright blue (a little lighter than Falcon blue). Biology also piques the 3.8 grade-point-average student’s interest. Moeller will enroll at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo in the fall, where he plans to graduate with a degree in biological studies, possibly with an emphasis in physiology and anatomy.
Soccer may be in his future, too. He said the men’s soccer coach at Cal Poly asked him to try out for the team, which sat well with Moeller.
“At least so I know that I could or couldn’t (play),” Moeller said.
One thing is certain. Noah Moeller could play for any team in the Cascade Conference.