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Falcon strikers win in shootout
It was girls soccer the way the game was meant to be played.
Facing off against Lakewood on Waterman Field Thursday night, the South Whidbey Falcons hit the dirt and were not afraid to take and dish out some big hits as they went for the ball in a 3-2 shootout win over the Cougars.
With rookie keeper Allison Riggs in goal, the Falcons and Cougars fought a seesaw battle all night. In the first few minutes of play, Lakewood seemed to score the first goal when their striker kicked the ball out of Riggs grip after the Falcon keeper made a sliding grab about 10 yards outside her own net. However, game officials ruled that Riggs had been fouled, so the goal was not allowed.
After that, it was South Whidbeys turn. Pushing hard into the Cougars zone near the midway point of the first half, Falcon Jennifer Barrow took the ball around a Lakewood player and deposited it into the net with a well-aimed kick. But the Falcons did not enjoy their lead for long. Having picked Riggs as a keeper who likes to cut down strikers well outside the net, the Cougars drew her out just minutes after Barrows scoring drive, then kicked past her attempt to make a sliding catch to tie the game 1-1.
A few minutes later, the Cougars made a second drive at a ready Riggs, who anchored herself to the front of her net. This time, the Lakewood players used a knot of bodies in front of the goal as a screen and kicked a scoring ball outside Riggs reach.
The second half of the game was more brutal. About 16 minutes in, senior Jaci Gutzmer collided with a Lakewood player while the two jumped for a header. Instead of hitting the ball, the two girls went head-to-head. Gutzmer was unhurt in the on-field smackup, but her Lakewood opponent went down with an ugly-looking scalp cut. Play was suspended for more than 10 minutes while trainers and coaches worked to stop the girls bleeding.
The Falcons made better use of the unexpected break and took only about three minutes to march down the field to set up Keasha Campbell for the tying score. The game remained a deadlock until after the two teams played an overtime period. In a game-ending shootout, Barrow, Gutzmer and Deanne Waterman each put up a point for South Whidbey to win the game.
The win was a boost for the Falcons, who had lost their third game in a row on Tuesday against Blaine. That game left Falcon coach Paul Arand wondering why his team wound up on the losing side. The Falcons outshot the Borderites 2-1 in the 2-0 loss.
I didnt feel like they outplayed us, Arand said.
Now holding onto a 6-4 record, the Falcons need to pick up several wins as they roll into the final third of their season schedule. Next up for the team is a road game against Lynden Christian on Tuesday.