Blaine curse avoided, Falcon soccer enters round of 16

At the rate the Blaine Borderites are learning the game South Whidbey’s girls soccer team plays, the Falcons better hope they don’t see their toughest conference rival again before season’s end.

In a seeding game for a state round of 16 tournament assignment, the Falcons and Borderites waged the sort of nip and tuck battle the teams have become known for during the past three years. In there third post-season meeting in as many years, the teams took a state qualifying game Saturday at Mount Vernon High School to a shootout. Having beaten the Borderites in a similar shootout to go to state in 2001 and losing one to get bumped from the tournament last season, the Falcons took the rubber match, shooting three goal’s to Blaine’s one in the tiebreaker to win 4-3.

Having beaten the Borderites twice before this season — 2-0 on Sept. 25, then 2-1 in double overtime on Oct. 21 — the now 18-0 Falcons had the statistical edge Saturday. Yet despite this, and a 37-7 shooting advantage in the game, the South Whidbey girls found themselves in trouble early as the Borderites became the only team this season to score first on the Falcons. In the 20th minute, Blaine striker Christine Frances headed the ball past South Whidbey goalkeeper Allyson Riggs on a corner kick.

“They came out a lot harder than they have before,” said freshman Falcon Kelsey Kimmel said of the score.

That was no deterrent. With the Borderites dropping back into defensive mode, Kimmel slammed the ball into the net 10 minutes later, lining a shot from 18 yards out.

“I knew we’d get it back,” said.

The tie held through halftime, setting up a seesaw battle in the second half. Breaking the tie took a bit of luck and a defensive mistake by the Borderites. Early in the half, a clearing shot appeared to ricochet off Falcon senior striker Claudia Gil-Osorio and into the net. Gil-Osorio, the team’s leading scorer, received credit for the goal.

Blaine came back again to tie the game a few minutes later, with another header score against Riggs. Then, in the 60th minute, South Whidbey sophomore Jenna Wild seemed to put the game away with a 20-yard net shot that took the game to 3-2. But tenacious as ever, the Borderites came back again, taking advantage of a penalty call to take an almost point-blank scoring shot at Riggs and the Falcon goal with eight minutes to go.

After two five-minute overtimes failed to decide the contest, South Whidbey wound up going to its second shootout of the year. After Gil-Osorio and Blaine’s Kimberly Harmoning failed to score on the first two shots, Wild found the net to take her team up 1-0. Riggs and a goalpost blocked Blaine’s next shot to preserve the lead, then sophomore Katie Watson added to it, blasting a goal to take South Whidbey’s advantage to 2-0. After that, it was goalkeeping that won the day. Though Riggs couldn’t get a hand on the Andrea Harmoning shot that took the shootout score to 2-1, she did on Blaine’s next chance — which came after the Falcons’ Kimmel booted in the winner for a 3-1 advantage.

Falcon coach Paul Arand noted that if Blaine — which qualified for state competition despite the loss — plays well enough, the Falcons could see the Borderites again. He said that though his team was dominant on the field, the Borderites were effective in tying up Gil-Osorio and in countering the Falcons’ style of play.

“They’re kind of used to us,” he said.

The Falcons played its first state tournament game Tuesday against 8-8 Vashon. A win would take them to a round of eight game against either Orting or Ridgefield.

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