Short-handed soccer takes two games

Though short as many as 10 varsity players for two spring break games this week, the Falcon boys soccer team found enough talent in their depth to take two conference games.

With a fourth-string goalkeeper minding the store and none of the team’s top-scoring strikers on the field, the Falcons hammered Mount Baker 4-1 on the road Tuesday, then came home to shut out Nooksack Valley 4-0 Thursday.

The games made a shooting star out of junior striker Josh Helpenstell, who put up two goals and an assist against the Mountaineers, then came back Thursday to score a hat trick off the Pioneers. Over the same two-game stretch, junior varsity midfielder and junior Kyle Calkins, knocked 18 shots away from the South Whidbey goal as he played to perfection in the absence of his team’s top three keepers.

“He had some great saves,” said team coach Mark Helpenstell, who admitted to being temporarily at a loss before Tuesday’s game when deciding which junior varsity players would move up to fill out the varsity roster.

Meshing less-experienced players into the varsity fabric was, nonetheless a challenge for the Falcons, who ended the week at 4-3 and in sole possession of fourth place in the North Cascades Conference. Against Nooksack Valley at Waterman Field, the Falcons struggled early as they failed to connect on about a half dozen perfect passes in front of the opposing net.

But one of those connections did work out in the first eight minutes, when Josh Helpenstell teed off on a John Gerlach assist in the eighth minute to put his team in the lead 1-0.

After junior Ben Walker took the game to 2-0 in the 30th minute on a free kick, Helpenstell came back in the second half to pound two more shots past the Pioneer keeper. Assisting him on the goals were juniors Kevin Dunigan and Justin Serill.

Against Mount Baker two days earlier, sophomore Kypher Koska gave the Falcons an early lead off an assist from senior defender Roy Ishii. After that, Helpenstell scored the winning goal unassisted, then added another off a Koska assist. Freshman junior varsity player Ethan Low finished out the game in grand style, picking up a Helpenstell pass from the end line, then shoving it past a lonely Mount Baker keeper.

The Falcons suffered one blow on a major injury during the week. On Thursday, freshman James Simon got caught in a four-man squeeze around the ball and suffered a broken leg. He is not expected to play again this season.

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