Wildcats deny Falcons’ upset, remain atop conference

South Whidbey defenders Connor McCauley and Calvin Shimada trap Archbishop Murphy sophomore Kenny Ficklin near the sideline on April 5.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
South Whidbey defenders Connor McCauley and Calvin Shimada trap Archbishop Murphy sophomore Kenny Ficklin near the sideline on April 5.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Losing to Archbishop Murphy, South Whidbey boys soccer started packing its gear with 8 minutes left.

The Wildcats jumped out to a 4-1 lead by halftime and never trailed the Falcons on April 5.

“When you get in a game like that, it’s almost ‘Well, what can we take away from this team?’” said Falcon senior Sam Turpin. “And they’re great at one-touch passing, two-touch passing.”

South Whidbey had its shot at an upset against the league’s top team coming off a 9-0 shellacking of Sultan earlier in the week. Archbishop Murphy was having none of it on their home field.

Archbishop Murphy held a 3-0 lead by the 28th minute. Once the Wildcats took charge, the Falcons seemed to lose the feisty fighting spirit that propped them up this season.

Running the sidelines and the middle from the opening whistle, the Wildcats ran wild. Senior Joshua Bartley scored three goals and assisted on another. His first came in the 14th minute as he beat Falcon defender Cameron Coupe down the sideline, took a step toward the goal and ricocheted a shot off the far post.

“It’s hard to defend someone – he’s a great player,” Coupe said of Bartley. “The goals he scored are just crazy.”

Goals came from all over the field for the Wildcats. The second score was a header by Jalen Crisler in the 19th. Bartley threw the ball in to the box, where the tall Crisler leaped and headed the ball in.

By the 29th minute and the third goal, Archbishop Murphy’s rout of South Whidbey was in full effect. Christian Thode bumped the third goal in off Crisler’s header.

Falcon junior Calvin Shimada sparked a quick transition from defense to offense with a pair of stops. A long through ball to Stephen Lyons on the sideline, then moved to the middle for Turpin, resulted in the Falcons’ only goal. Turpin launched the ball in from the 18, giving South Whidbey a brief, shining moment in an otherwise rain-trodden match.

“Our possessing never was that good or will get that good,” Turpin said. “We’re just trying to work the channels.”

“When we started to relax, that’s when the game gets easier for us.”

South Whidbey’s elation of scoring against the league’s top team quickly faded. Two minutes later, Bartley scored his second goal by beating two defenders with a move inside, tapping the ball with his right heel down the sideline by two Falcon defenders and sending the ball past keeper Andrew Holt.

“We left Josh Bartley uncovered, and he walked around us,” Turpin said. “It took the focus off of being on the attack because our forwards were coming back just to help on defense.”

Mercifully, the halftime break ended the onslaught for five minutes.

If the second half were its own game, South Whidbey would have lost a close contest. Archbishop Murphy only scored once more in the 46th minute. Bartley booted in the third goal of his hat trick on a through ball in the middle that rifled by Holt.

“We were almost playing like it was a competitive game,” Turpin said. “Next time we play them, it will be competitive.”

The Wildcats switched goalies in the second half, replacing Luis Valdes, a senior, with junior Jeff Scavatto. South Whidbey changed its defense, too, assigning senior midfielder Connor McCauley to shadow Bartley.

Despite trailing the Wildcats, the Falcons did not turn on each other. Their light banter sounded like resignation to some, but the Falcons’ leaders said the attitude was a step in the right direction.

“I really like how we reacted today,” Turpin said. “To a lot of teams it would seem like we were giving up. To me, our guys stayed focused.”

Unless something drastically changes in the next few weeks, Archbishop Murphy’s perch atop the Cascade Conference boys soccer standings looks secure.

South Whidbey needs to beat King’s this week to improve its chances of a 1A state playoff berth.


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