High expectations came crashing down Tuesday night in Shoreline for the South Whidbey boys soccer team.
Other than the result of a 2-1 shootout loss to Cascade Christian, it was a moment some of the Falcon seniors had visualized since they were kids.
“It’s weird. I’m sad, but at the same time it’s not the worst way to go,” said Falcon senior keeper Andrew Holt. “I’m with all my best friends, kids I’ve grown up with forever. Playing at King’s, Woolsey Stadium, since I was in seventh grade I’ve been playing here. It’s a nostalgic way to end.”
There they were, seniors on an experienced, talented soccer squad, playing in the tri-district tournament, a couple of games away from the 1A state tournament. The game was tied through regulation, knotted after one five-minute bonus period, then a second. Play extended to a shootout, and the first five shots by each squad sail into the net.
Then the sweet dream soured on the Falcons’ sixth kick. South Whidbey sophomore Andrew Zisette stepped to the 12-yard marker, took his shot and watched Cougar keeper Tanner Premo dive to his right and stuff the shot.
“It’s unfortunate for Andy,” said Falcon senior Sam Turpin. “We pulled him up from junior varsity and he played flawlessly. That was me two years ago. I ended our tournament chances by missing a PK, and I was sixth, the same spot he was. I know where he’s at right now.”
“It’s not his fault.”
South Whidbey had a chance to extend the shootout with Holt, who saved three penalty kicks in a shootout with Sultan earlier in the season, facing one last shot. But the Cougars sent senior defender Andy LeDarme to the line, who booted his shot by Holt to the right corner of the net, winning the hotly contested match.
On the first possession of the match, Cascade Christian freshman midfielder Aaron Bradner was booked with a yellow card in the third minute for a hard foul. Things never settled between the two teams facing elimination after that.
South Whidbey pressed in the first half, including near misses in the fourth and fifth minutes on Darby Hayes’ headers.
Just before halftime, Falcon sophomore Bryce Auburn rolled his right ankle and was taken out of the game. He joined a host of battered Falcons. Junior Trey Adams, one of the Falcons mainstays on offense, was in and out of the game after he suffered a head injury in the District 1 tournament.
Finding their rhythm, South Whidbey came out of the halftime break with vigor. Within the first few minutes, the Falcons kept the ball on the Cougars’ half and wound up with a throw from the sideline. Sophomore defender Oliver Saunsaucie cast it into the box, where Turpin got it and rocketed in the score in the 46th.
“I stayed surprisingly quiet for about 10 seconds, then I couldn’t hold it in anymore and I freaked out screamed and ran around,” Turpin said.
“I told myself if anything was going to happen tonight I was going to get a goal and go out hard in my last game. That’s what’s keeping me from bawling right now.”
South Whidbey appeared to take a two-score lead two minutes later. A long, high kick dropped in front of Falcon senior Stephen Lyons. When the Cougars’ keeper challenged him for the ball, Lyons lofted it over him and into the goal, but the sideline ref flagged it as an offside penalty, negating the goal.
Joy was short lived by South Whidbey. Cascade Christian responded in the 52nd with a goal by Bradner off Anthony Dahlquist’s corner kick.
“The back post is the majority of our goals (allowed),” Holt said. “And I’m taking the majority of the blame on that. Once the ball is kicked, we’re like ‘Andy will get it,’ and the back guy gets loose.”
An already physical, testy game was exacerbated when Falcon sophomore Davin Kesler collided with Cascade Christian’s Dahlquist as he went for a header. Falcon assistant coach Skip Robbins erupted at the refs, pleading for them to take command of the game and issue a yellow card. Instead, he was awarded the yellow card for comments to the field ref.
That seemed to fire up South Whidbey, which got off two decent shots on goal that were both saved in the final 14 minutes. Cascade Christian responded with its own aggression as junior Garodd Stimets charged a through ball in the box, colliding with Holt as he grabbed the ball. Stimets received a yellow card, Holt yelled at him, and when a Cougar fan was heard yelling back, Holt yelled at her, too.
Everything was on the line for South Whidbey and Cascade Christian, and emotions ran high. That may have taken its toll late in the game and in the bonus periods, as both teams lacked the energy to chase down long through balls along the sidelines. Missing that zest and zip, the match went to the shootout where Cascade Christian won.