Sports

Strikers make state, but lose in first round

Jaci Gutzmer uses her whole body to keep the ball in play Saturday night during a playoff game against Blaine. - Matt Johnson
Jaci Gutzmer uses her whole body to keep the ball in play Saturday night during a playoff game against Blaine.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

First they were up, then they were down, and now they’re out. Even so, the South Whidbey High School girls soccer team finished one of its best seasons ever this week with a trip to the 2A state playoffs and a scorebook loaded with victories.

Playing in Vancouver Monday night against a team from Ridgefield, the Falcon girls lost a 2-0 contest in the first single-elimination round of the state tournament. The loss followed a 2-0 win Saturday night in which the Falcons chased some of their demons by beating the Blaine Borderites at Edmonds Stadium. South Whidbey lost two games to the Borderites during the regular season.

Monday’s contest was a tough one for the Falcons. Coming out of the Northwest District 1 playoffs as the number-three seed, the South Whidbey girls drew a lopsided game against Ridgefield, which was the top-ranked team in their district. Though the Falcons were the only team to hand another dominant squad, 17-1 Meridian, a loss this season, they were not able to play giant killer a second time. Ridgefield’s strikers shot two balls past South Whidbey goalkeeper Allyson Riggs early in the first half, then let the defense take over. The Falcons made 21 shots on goal during the game, far more than the eight Ridgefield tallied.

In Saturday’s game, the South Whidbey girls were on fire. Playing on a fast artificial turf field, the team used all their speed and several days of specialized turf training to knock the wind out of the Borderites.

Kim Julius opened the scoring with a bouncy shot from 35 yards out. Blaine’s goalkeeper misjudged the kick and could only watch as the ball went into the net. The second goal came late in the game when Natalie Schmidt nailed the left corner of the Borderite net with a point-blank shot. In between the two goals, Willa Purser, Deanne Waterman, Michelle Schorr, and Lindsey Binford kept the ball out of the Falcon zone.

“That game almost seemed like the best game of the year,” said Falcon coach Paul Arand.

After Friday’s game, Arand said he was disappointed for his team.

“It’s too bad it had to end this way,” he said.

The Falcons end the season with a record of 11-9. Two players on the team, Lindsey Binford and Jaci Gutzmer, were named to the North Cascades Conference first team for their play this year. Michelle Schorr, Willa Purser, and Deanne Waterman made second team, while Jennifer Barrow, Natalie Schmidt and Kim Julius received honorable mention.

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