Soccer girls feel season’s first sting

The South Whidbey girls soccer team received its first reality check of the season in the form of a 1-0 road game loss to Meridian Saturday.

When the Falcons faced former North Cascades Conference competitor Meridian last season, they beat the Trojans 3-2 and 2-1. But this time, a fledgling team of Falcons were simply caught off guard, according to head coach Paul Arand.

“It was our second non-conference game, and first challenging opponent of the season,” Arand said. “We’re a team of young players that’s still trying to find the right combination on the field.”

The Falcons came into the game off a Sept. 9 pounding of Coupeville 16-0. Meridian came primed after downing Nooksack Valley 2-0 Sept. 7 and Mount Baker 3-0 Sept. 9.

The one-on-one offensive style shown by South Whidbey last week against the Wolves proved to be no match to a defensive crackdown by the Trojans.

“When you face a team like Meridian you have use at least three to four players to move the ball around the whole field to beat a more disciplined team,” Arand said.

Meridian’s lone goal, and one of only two shots on the Falcon net, occurred 30 minutes into the first half as the result of circumstantial events colliding.

Moments before, Falcon freshman defender Natasha Roberts received a knock that took the wind out of her. A subsequent South Whidbey clearing of the ball gave Meridian a quick throw-in-and-run opportunity near the Falcon back 18-yards which led to a lofting chip cross over the South Whidbey defense. Less than 15 feet away from the goal line, junior defender Rita Jones took a slip on the wet turf, allowing Meridian’s junior forward Rachel Rexroat to kick it in the lower left corner past senior goalkeeper Allyson Riggs.

“It was so close and hard for any keeper to react to,” Arand said.

Around 10 minutes into the second half, the Falcons struck back. Junior midfielder Katie Watson was able to get a power shot on the Trojan net that ricocheted off another player before Falcon junior forward Nicole Falso followed it into the net. Game officials deemed there was a hand-ball on the play and the potential game tying goal was negated.

Drowning any hopes of a come-back was a Meridian defense that congested its back-field to keep South Whidbey at long distance.

“When a team crowds the back with six to eight players they’re relying on the difficulty of long shots because it’s hard to penetrate a defense like that,” he said.

While Meridian may have taken the game, the Falcons out shot their opponents 10-2.

“In an evenly matched game like this the difference was finishing,” Arand said.

Arand credits his players for keeping the Meridian tally down after the lone goal. He said Falcon players like including sophomore midfielder Amy Pfeiffer and junior defender Rita Jones helped keep Meridian scoring threat Rexroat at bey.

And although disappointed in the loss, sophomore midfielder Kelsey Kimmel said she and her teammates needed to “take a knock as a wake up call.”

“We took a hitting with a loss under our belts and now know what we need to work on,” Watson said.

With a number of players on the mend, the Falcons now gladly practiceduring a matchless week. The team’s next game is scheduled for Sept. 18 against Coupeville.

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