Tricked and pelted, Tigers fall in South Whidbey’s nest

“No matter what team we’re playing, we’re going to play strong all the way.”

In a lot of sports, on a lot of teams, a statement like this from almost any player wouldn’t mean much. But when Claudia Gil-Osorio says it, any girls soccer team that has to play against her and the rest of the Falcons can’t help but feel chilled.

On Saturday, Gil-Osorio, a senior South Whidbey striker, kicked her talk, ringing up a hat trick as the Falcons blanked the Granite Falls Tigers 6-0 in an afternoon game at Waterman Field.

Playing on one of those rare fall days when the sun was out and the air was warm, the South Whidbey girls demonstrated why they have the best team in the North Cascades Conference and possibly the state: Together, they are a scoring machine.

Missing their top player, the Tigers had less than no chance in the game, quickly falling behind 3-0 in the first 40-minute period. Pressing their usual team offense, the Falcons kept the ball out of the Tigers’ reach and peppering their better-than-average goalkeeper with dozens of shots. At the same time, the South Whidbey defense limited Granite Falls to just four shots on the game.

Putting that pressure on early was Gil-Osorio, sophomore Jenna Wild and freshman striker Kelsey Kimmel.

But as the scoring gap widened and Granite Falls seemed less and less able to take the ball past midfield, the Falcons switched strategies. To give the Tiger defense a chance and to season his own girls, Falcon coach Paul Arand told his team to “get selfish” and essentially quit pressing their two and three-touch passing game. With that as the game plan, individual South Whidbey players mounted solo attack after solo attack throughout the second half. Though Tiger double teams fought off a number of them, South Whidbey had the numerical advantage. Strikers, midfielders, defenders and even Falcon goalkeeper Allyson Riggs — who was playing out of goal in the second half — took runs at the net. Both Wild and Kimmel, who each took about a half dozen shots each in the half, were rewarded with a goal apiece. Brennan was the last Falcon to score on the game, weaving neatly past defenders before taking a soft kick at a net left almost undefended by an out-of-position goalkeeper.

The win takes South Whidbey to 5-0, which keeps them in the NCC lead ahead of second-place Sultan, which is close behind at 4-1. With the loss, the Tigers fall to 1-3.

With her hat trick, Gil-Osorio leads all South Whidbey scorers with nine goals on the season.

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