Falcon kickers play, win Smart and Wild

Junior defender Lena Ishii moves the ball around Granite Falls
Junior defender Lena Ishii moves the ball around Granite Falls' zone in the Falcons' 6-1 Thursday night win over the Tigers. Earlier in the week, Ishii was key in a 2-1 win over Nooksack Valley.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

Two different playing styles -- one slashing, punishing and loud, and the other quick and unpredictable -- kept South Whidbey at the top of the soccer ball heap this week.

Clinging to a one-game lead in the North Cascades Conference, the Falcons relied on rough-and-tumble senior Tanya Smart and speedy freshman striker Jenna Wild to put points on the board when they needed them in two convincing wins this week. On Tuesday, Wild scored the winning goal in a game that was almost as out of control as her last name in a 2-1 South Whidbey road win over Nooksack Valley. Two days later, Smart put away two goals by hacking away at Granite Falls' defense in a 6-1 win.

Both games were both close and not close at the same time. At Nooksack, the Falcons jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first 20 minutes on Lena Ishii and Wild goals. Then the team set about defending its lead on a narrow field with a scrubby grass and dirt surface that sent the ball bouncing every which way.

The score held until the 75th minute, when the Pioneers finally found the net against South Whidbey goalkeeper Allyson Riggs.

From that point on, said Falcon coach Paul Arand, his team hung on for dear life.

"Then they really pushed," he said of the opposition.

Thursday's game had the Falcons in another tough position. Though clearly dominant as they Granite Falls outshot the Tigers 58-2 over the course of 80 minutes on Waterman Field, the Falcons struggled to get points on the board early. Wearing down the defense, Smart was the first to strike, hammering a low shot from 15 yards to take the game to 1-0 after 19 minutes of play. But her feat was soon matched when the Tigers mounted their only successful scoring drive of the night. The 1-1 tie held to the end of the half.

But after halftime, the Falcons were back with a better strategy. Giving up crossing shots for the remainder of the evening, they shot low and at close range for the rest of the night. Profiting from the strategy were Amy Barrow -- who nailed what turned out to be the winning goal -- Smart, Wild, Katie Watson and Kellie Horn.

The two wins take the Falcons to 11-3 overall and in the NCC.

Having their own success this week was the undefeated junior varsity soccer team. The squad extended its two-season win streak to 16 games as it improved to 12-0. Against Nooksack Valley Tuesday, the JV Falcons won 4-1 on Britt Hansen, Jessica Burgess, Kim Applebee, and Liz Jeffers goals. Thursday brought a 7-0 over Granite Falls. Scorers were Jessica Burgess, Katie Romer, Kim Applebee, Liz Jeffers, Nicole Falso, and Taryn Langlois. Jeffers had two goals in the game.

Both the varsity and JV Falcons play their last home games of the season Tuesday against Blaine.

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