Under second-year head coach Ben Rusch, South Whidbey’s six seniors powered the program to a 5-9 conference record. The Falcons improved from 4-10 last season, in large part to its veteran leaders.
Seniors Paige Farmer (four goals), Lindsey Grimm (three goals), Sienna Schaal and Jenna Kaik were four-year players for the Falcon program. They went through a coaching change and a culture change last season under Rusch, which helped bring in senior goalie Ellie Greene and senior forward Hayley Newman, who had not played soccer in at least two years.
Here’s what they had to say about their final season and careers on the South End.
Why was the season a success or a failure?
Ellie Greene: The season was successful because we won more than half of our games this season.
Sienna Schaal: It was both. Success because we’re improving as a team every year and realizing what it takes to become great. Failure because sometimes we lack the dedication to become a top team.
Hayley Newman: It was a definite success! Ben wants to build the girls soccer program, and that’s exactly what’s happening. We improved from last year, and we’ll keep improving.
Jenna Kaik: I believe that this year was a success. We won more games this season out of all four years I played for the high school, and I believe that the team’s players got along better this year.
Who had the most impressive season?
Newman: Jenna Kaik, I think, had the most impressive season. As a center defender she did whatever it took to keep the ball away from our goal. Without her, there would have been a lot more shots on goal. She worked hard at every practice, and it showed out on the field.
Kaik: The most impressive player this year, I thought, was Katie Sibley. She worked her butt off this season. She was always at practice and was always wanting to do better. I really loved having her on defense with me because we just worked really well together and always had each other’s back.
Who was the most physical player?
Greene: The most physical players that come to mind are Katie Sibley and Jenna Kaik. They played hard and the next thing you know, they are on the ground or they knocked someone over.
Schaal: I guess Hayley or Paige.
Newman: Lindsey Grimm, whether it was throwing an elbow or booting the ball as far as she could out of bounds (so the other team would have to run far away to get it), she always wanted to get the ball back in our possession.
Kaik: I think Paige Farmer is definitely the most physical player. She is a very small person, but man is she aggressive! She always gives it her all and doesn’t hold back. When she wants the ball she will do anything to get it, even if it means fouling the other team.
Who was the funniest?
Greene: The funniest was Katie Sibley. She always made me laugh on and off the field. She was one of the people who had a great sense of humor and great comebacks.
Schaal: Kiana Murray and Annie Lux.
Newman: It’s hard to choose just one person. For some reason when I tend to tell stories about things that happen to me at school or with my nephew Brody, Ben and the rest of the team just seem to find me hilarious, I’m not sure why though.
Kaik: Kiana Murray is hilarious! She just has a way of making everyone on the whole team laugh. She was always so energetic and pumped for practice and games.
What is your fondest memory from the season?
Greene: My fondest memory from the season has to be when the team is together sharing the funniest moments on the field.
Schaal: Beating Granite Falls.
Newman: One of the greatest things about participating in high school sports is the friendships you form outside of the classroom. Sharing stories and laughing (with) Olivia Bolding, Samantha Baldwin, Annie Lux and Maia Sparkman on the bus rides to and from games is something that I will never forget.
Kaik: Making my shot during the shootout against Coupeville and just every time we won a game.
Which game was the most memorable?
Greene: The game that was most memorable has to be when we played Granite Falls for the last conference game of the season. That’s when it really hit me that the conference season was over.
Schaal: First game against Granite Falls.
Newman: The first time we played Granite Falls at home on a Saturday, and Annie Lux scored a header off of Maia Sparkman’s corner kick. It was amazing!
Kaik: I think the two games against Granite Falls will be most memorable because this is the first year we beat them and we beat them two times, so it was really great to beat that team for my senior year.
Where is the worst spot on Waterman Field?
Greene: The worst part about Waterman Field is that little hill in the middle of the field from goal to goal. Also the mud hole in the middle of the field which you see everyone slipping on when it’s raining out.
Schaal: The hill...
Newman: Well right in the center where we kick off is like a mountain of mud. The fact that we have to play on it is kind of embarrassing, considering we don’t even practice there and the football team tears it up.
Kaik: Anywhere there was a mud puddle and the hill in the middle of the field. Nowhere is flat and sometimes you are running downhill and sometimes uphill, so it made playing a little difficult.
What will South Whidbey’s record be next year?
Greene: I’m hoping it’s better than this year’s record. I want them to get better throughout the years.
Schaal: Hopefully a winning one!
Newman: Over .500, no doubt. With the team’s positive attitude, talent and the ability to work together, they’ll be back to districts next year.
Kaik: I am hoping the girls will improve even more and actually win a district game. I hope that they will be ahead of Lakewood next year and I believe they can do it.
How did you improve this season?
Greene: I improved this season by communicating with the team when I got the ball or when I wanted it away.
Newman: Ben moved me around a lot throughout the season, trying me out at different positions. But I think my ball skills and aggressiveness improved as the season went along. I just wanted to help my team any way I could.
Kaik: I think I improved more on not stabbing for the ball. In the beginning of the season I stabbed all the time which got me in some trouble, but I worked on it some and stopped stabbing as much as I was.
Note: responses from seniors Paige Farmer and Lindsey Grimm will be posted online at the Record’s sports blog, BENch notes. Grimm and Schaal, both students enrolled in Running Start, were unavailable for the group picture.