Playing soccer together since they were at least 10 led to almost half a lifetime of experience and chemistry for the South Whidbey boys soccer seniors, all eight of them.
At any given time, Falcon head coach Joel Gerlach had eight players with a minimum of seven years of soccer experience. Most of them played since their early days with the South Whidbey Parks & Recreation teams or the South Whidbey Youth Soccer Association.
Boundless chemistry and lots of talent led River Ellis, Cameron Coupe, Guy Sparkman, Steve Lyons, Connor McCauley, Sam Turpin, Darby Hayes and Andy Holt to the best South Whidbey soccer season in the past four years. The Falcons finished 11-7 overall and 9-5 in Cascade Conference play, good for a third-place league finish.
In the playoffs, South Whidbey blasted Blaine, 6-0, and toppled Mount Baker, 2-1. District 1’s top seeded team, Lynden Christian, won the district championship as South Whidbey was routed 4-0. Facing single elimination in the first round of the tri-district playoffs, South Whidbey fell in a shootout to Cascade Christian, 2-1.
After the game, senior Sam Turpin relayed his experience as a sophomore in a district playoff shootout. He missed his shot, which handed Bellingham the win in 2011, similar to teammate Andy Zisette whose penalty kick shot was saved.
Fellow seniors Guy Sparkman and Cameron Coupe scored their one-on-one looks. Turpin scored the fifth shootout kick for South Whidbey, and scored the lone regular time goal for the Falcons.
Here are their reflections on their careers and final season.
What’s your go-to move with the ball?
Hayes: Right foot step over.
McCauley: Pass it.
Lyons: Cruyff turn, ball behind the standing leg.
Holt: My go to move is the state down when players get too close.
What was the best advice you heard about soccer, and from whom?
Hayes: Play calm, coach Ben Rusch.
McCauley: Don’t do too much with it, coach Dion McCauley.
Lyons: Always expect the ball to come to you, coach Dion McCauley, it’s how I scored a lot of my goals.
Turpin: Have fun — all the coaches I’ve ever had.
Sparkman: Predict, coach "Skip" Emerson.
Holt: His name was Manny. He said go for the ball no matter what.
Which was your favorite game this season and in your Falcon career?
Hayes: Both season and career was the overtime win over King’s this year — same game I was K.O.’d.
McCauley: This season — Archbishop Murphy at home. Career – sophomore year against Bellingham in a playoff game.
Lyons: Second time playing King’s at home, penalty kick shootout for both.
Turpin: Season — last game; career — first game of my JV career where we came back from 0-3 to win 6-3 against King’s.
Sparkman: This season, home game against Lakewood. We had lost to them earlier in the season so it was nice to get revenge and win on our home field. I also cored a header goal which was nice. Falcon career - home playoff game against Burlington-Edison last year. All around amazing game.
Holt: When we played King's at home. Hands down favorite game. The shoot out was crazy.
Who has the strongest leg?
Hayes: Cam Coupe or Andy Holt.
McCauley: Andrew, for sure!
Lyons: Andrew, and I was often on the receiving end of his kicks.
Turpin: Andrew or Cam.
Sparkman: Cam "Strong leg" Coupe.
Holt: I'd say Cam has got the strongest leg. I might have him on the drop kick though.
What was your fondest moment off the field with the team?
McCauley: Every bus ride to and from the games.
Lyons: Endless times at Safeway pre-game.
Turpin: Dunking on the small hoops in the Coupeville gym before our game.
Sparkman: All the bus rides and Safeway trips for the away games.
Holt: Safeway trips made soccer away games. It's just a nostalgic thing.
Why was the soccer team successful this season?
Hayes: Because we are so close. Playing soccer with your best friends is easier than with strangers.
McCauley: We’ve been playing together since we were 10 so we work well together and we didn’t have any excessive egos on the team this year.
Lyons: We played because we love the sport and the team around us, we’ve grown up and played soccer as a team for years. It’s easy to play as a team with brothers.
Turpin: Because win or lose we enjoyed the game of soccer.
Sparkman: We have strong chemistry.
Holt: We were successful because of good coaching, chemistry and the will to win. It takes a lot of heart.
What’s your least favorite area of Waterman Field?
Hayes: The very center of the field is an uneven mud pit.
McCauley: The center of the field is crap!
Lyons: The muddy parts or the hump.
Turpin: The 10-foot ring of marsh that surrounds the uneven ground in the center.
Sparkman: It's a love/hate relationship with Waterman's Field.
Holt: The gravel in the goal box really rips up the ol' knees.