Sports

Sparkman ignites South Whidbey soccer on senior night

Falcon senior Guy Sparkman avoids a slide by Lakewood’s Christopher Alvarado in the second half of the game April 19. Sparkman later scored a goal on a header.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Falcon senior Guy Sparkman avoids a slide by Lakewood’s Christopher Alvarado in the second half of the game April 19. Sparkman later scored a goal on a header.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Fighting for the ball and chasing after it was a common admonishment from South Whidbey’s sideline this season.

That changed Friday against Lakewood when the boys soccer team won 2-0. And it changed because of Guy Sparkman, playing in one of his final home Cascade Conference games.

Sparkman flew across the field from goal to goal and sideline to sideline. His hair whipped in the air on more than a dozen jump balls as he swung for a header. His feet dashed against shinguards and grass. And eventually, in the 62nd minute, his noggin connected with the ball for a 2-0 Falcon lead over the Cougars.

“The whole culmination of it being senior night was really the cherry on the top,” Sparkman said. “Earlier during pre-game I said I was going to score on a freekick. I just didn’t expect it on a header.”

As the game wore on, every header Sparkman won, every slide he evaded and every burn he put on the Cougars drew louder and louder cheers from the Falcon fans. South Whidbey’s senior night went close to the script he had in mind.

“There was more motivation,” Sparkman said. “There was just some fire in my heart that wanted to win every ball and give our team the best chance to win.”

South Whidbey regrouped from an early offensive by Lakewood. The Cougars fired off a pair of shots on goal within the first few minutes.

After that, the ball belonged to the Falcons. Four shots on goal, many by senior Stephen Lyons, missed or were saved by Cougar keeper Sam Roe. One point-blank score from Lyons was waved off by the refs on an offsides call.

No matter. A few minutes later senior Darby Hayes headed in a shot off his own deflection in the 28th for the go-ahead goal. All season the Falcon coaches Joel Gerlach, Skip Robbins and Ernie Merino and even the players have scolded one another for not fighting for headers. When they successfully headed the ball in past contests, the Falcons were overzealous with their hands or positioning and would be whistled for a foul. Something about the Lakewood game was different.

“Everyone just clicked at this moment,” Sparkman said. “Moving on from here, hopefully that will be the result with everyone passing really well.”

South Whidbey’s defense pressed the midfield and was able to keep keeper Andrew Holt mostly a spectator in the match. At the start of the second half, Holt caught a corner kick in a seas of players, both Falcon and Cougar. Otherwise Holt was relegated to watching the action from a distance.

A freekick set up Sparkman’s goal. A collision between Falcon Bryce Auburn and Lakewood’s Jacob Lizzarraga resulted in the spot kick about 20 yards from Lakewood’s goal. Reserve midfielder Davin Kesler, a lefty, was called to take the kick. Lakewood set up a human shield with five players only a few yards away to try and deflect and shot or cross. It didn’t work.

Kesler whipped the ball over and around them to Sparkman in the box, where he headed in the ball to the far post.

“It was so close to the goal we were thinking of shooting it, but when Guy stepped up he said he wanted to get on a cross, Kesler said. “He made the hand gesture meaning ‘I want it,’ and it just worked out.”


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