A 2-1 win at Meridian Wednesday, May 2, propelled the South Whidbey High School soccer team into the District 1 championship match and into the bi-district tournament.
The Falcons (10-5-2) will play their Cascade Conference nemesis King’s (12-2-2) in the district title match at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 5, at Sultan High School.
The Knights eked by South Whidbey twice during the regular season, winning 2-1 in overtime March 23 and 1-0 April 13.
The championship tilt will determine the top two seeds from District 1 in the bi-district tournament.
The winner of the championship match will play Overlake for the bi-district title at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 12, at Sammamish High School. Both teams will advance to the state tournament.
If the Falcons lose to King’s, they will need to win twice (5 p.m. Thursday, May 10, and 1 p.m. Saturday, May 12) at Sammamish to earn the third and final berth into the state playoffs.
South Whidbey 2, Meridian 1
Some halftime adjustments helped the Falcons overcome strong play by Meridian’s striker and midfielders and pull out the win.
Coach Emerson Robbins made some changes in the Falcons’ formation “to better secure the midfield” and to “change-up” the South Whidbey attack by keeping the outside mids higher up the pitch to “play more directly.”
Those adjustments “seemed to turn the tide,” Robbins said, and created more scoring opportunities.
After a slim 4-3 shooting advantage in the first half, South Whidbey owned a 9-3 advantage in the second. The Trojan shots were from long range and were easily stopped by SW keeper Julian Inches.
The Falcons took a quick lead when freshman Aidan O’Brien scored off a strong corner kick from Graham Colar.
Meridian tied the match midway through the first period.
About 20 minutes into the second half, the Falcons received another goal from another freshman, Reilly McVay. McVay headed in a cross from Silas Batiste for the win.
From there, the defense, led by Lake Smith and Ari Rohan, kept Meridian off the board.
“Also, our outside backs, Joey Lane and Thomas Simms (another freshman), were instrumental in our win,” Robbins said. “Graham was making great runs all game, but he was constantly man-marked by one or two defenders, as their coach had scouted our team in our game versus Cedarcrest. What he probably didn’t get was that we have many guys who can score, and these guys ultimately made the difference in the final result.”