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Soccer boys disappointed but not down
It wasn't exactly the way to start the season, but it was close.
With the Sultan Turks visiting and an almost all-new varsity lineup on the field, the South Whidbey boys soccer team was looking for a win to confirm they have what it takes to be a playoff team by May. But on this first outing, they were disappointed, losing a tight contest with the Turks 2-1.
According to Falcon coach Fran Einterz, the boys played hard, but didn't communicate well enough.
"We'll get better," he said, "but there's things we can work on."
The most notable communication breakdown came in the opening minutes of the game, when Turk striker Brandon Knapp went solo against two South Whidbey defenders and goalkeeper Joe Gunn. Despite the coverage, he dribbled free and sent the ball into the Falcon goal.
Shaking off the early score, the Falcons snapped back. As Gunn made several big saves during the remainder of the first half, his teammates turned up the pressure in Sultan's zone. Sophomore defender Kevin Dunigan was the guy who got his team back in the game, wheeling in front of the Turk net with a convoy of Falcons before putting the shot past Sultan rookie keeper Vern Nelson. That tied the game at 1-1.
Halftime interrupted South Whidbey's momentum and opened a door for Sultan. The Turks came out fast in the second half, taking less than 10 minutes to set up Knapp for a pass to teammate Andy Morrell, who knocked the winning goal past Gunn.
Both goalkeepers saw action in the even match as the boys played a tough, physical game on both sides.
Einterz said he will tweak South Whidbey's starting lineup slightly and work on strategy for a Friday away game against Lynden Christian. The Lyncs, who are regularly at the top of the North Cascades standings, are the team to beat. They shut out a tough Blaine squad 2-0 in their season opener Monday.
Einterz said the Falcons will bounce back from this week's loss.
"I know the boys are very disappointed," said Einterz after coaching his first South Whidbey game. "We need to play a little better."
South Whidbey drops 0-1 in the NCC and overall while Sultan advances to 1-0.