Girls kick out as giant killers

Early in Tuesday
Early in Tuesday's 3-2 win over Meridian, sophomore Katie Watson battles at midfield to keep the ball in the Trojan end. Watson would go on to score one of the team's goals in the game, which saw the Falcons outshoot their opponents 20-4.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

Making an early delivery on the promise of a season without peer, the Falcon girls soccer team killed off two giants this week and likely set themselves up as the top 2A team in the state.

On Tuesday, the South Whidbey girls bottled up Meridian -- a fourth-place finisher at state last year and one of the best teams in the North Cascades Conference -- beating them 3-2 at home on a last-minute goal from senior striker Claudia Gil-Osorio.

Then on Thursday, Gil-Osorio and freshman forward Kelsey Kimmel sent one ball each into the net with help from sophomore Jenna Wild to beat the defending state champions from Sultan in a 2-1 road victory.

The wins reverse the team's fortunes of a year ago, taking them to 2-0 to start the season, after starting 2002 at 0-2. Key in the wins was the return of Gil-Osorio to South Whidbey's front line. Injured and unable to play most of last season, Gil Osorio was key in this week's games. On Tuesday, she started early, staking out territory in front of the Meridian net as her teammates put pressure on the Trojans from the opening whistle.

Through much of the first half, the game was played in the Trojan end. South Whidbey struck first when at 17 minutes Gil-Osorio zinged one into the goal to put the Falcons up 1-0. Pushed around by the South Whidbey midfield and defenders Rita Jones, Taryn Langlois, Natalie Schmidt and Willa Purser, the Trojans were only able to come back early in the second half, when they pounced on a Falcon defensive pass back to goalkeeper Allyson Riggs and two-touched the ball into the net.

Coming out of the midfield, sophomore Katie Watson put her team back on top with a goal in the 40th minute. Meridian then tied the game with three minutes to go with a hard net kick, but savored the moment for only a minute as Gil-Osorio charged downfield with the ball, dished it off to a teammate, then set up perfectly to take a high cross pass and head it into the Trojan net for the win.

Thursday's game, though it was played against what should have been a better team, was less of a drama. Taking an assist from Wild -- last year's South Whidbey scoring leader -- Gil-Osorio put her team up 1-0 in the 38th minute to give the Falcons the lead at the half. Thirty-one minutes later, it was freshman Kimmel's turn at the net, converting another key pass from Wild to take the Falcons to 2-0.

Well ahead on the shot count, the Falcons then made some substitutions for, giving the Turks the opportunity to come back and score late, but the single goal did not affect the outcome.

Also of note in the game was the benching of Sultan's top scorer, Katie Brown, who was yellow carded in the first half. Her coach sat her the remainder of the game.

Falcon coach Paul Arand said the score differential might have been greater. Two Gil-Osorio shots -- one off the top crossbar and another off a corner post -- missed the net by fractions of inches.

With the team's offense running in high gear on Gil-Osorio and Wild's efforts, Arand said the team has a good feeling going into games.

"It's a luxury having two of the best forwards in the conference," he said.

The Falcons play at home next on Tuesday against Lakewood.

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