Losses hurt kickers in playoffs

When the South Whidbey boys start high school soccer playoffs on Saturday, they will be trying to kick their way out of the basement.

The Falcons lost two games between Friday and Monday, dropping themselves into losing territory late in the season as their record fell to 7-8. Both games -- the first against Sultan at home and the second a road contest against Blaine -- were close, but stayed out of reach when South Whidbey strikers could not capitalize on huge advantages in goal shots.

At Blaine, Falcon Coach Mark Helpenstell saw the same scenario his team has struggled with all season. Down 2-1, his team was nonetheless dominant on offense, outshooting the Borderites at a ratio of 3-1. But other than a Jeff Serrill goal from a Chris Layman assist early in the game, nothing was getting past the goalkeeper.

Helpenstell said his boys are getting the shots off, but always when the goalkeeper and the defense is in position.

"We just can't quite figure out how to finish," he said.

The story was similar Friday night when Sultan came to town. A vastly improved team over the one the Falcons beat last year, the Turks were up 2-0 in the first half before junior Adam Jaffe was able to convert a perfect pass from Layman into scoring gold.

The Falcons controlled the tempo of the game for most of the 70 minutes, but were unable to take advantage of their shooting edge. They lost the game 3-1.

Helpenstell said it would have been good for the team's playoffs chances to beat Sultan. Right now, the Falcons are sixth in the North Cascade Conference standings and will remain there, no matter what the outcome of the season closer against Lynden Christian Saturday. Meridian, which has suffered only one loss, leads in the NCC standings.

The Falcons will begin playoff action on Saturday. Wednesday's game against the Lyncs will be at Waterman field.

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