Sports

Kickers feel the pain, win

Senior forward Connor Adams works against a physical Meridian defense in the second half of Saturday’s game at Waterman Field. Adams went on to score the winner in the 2-1 South Whidbey victory. - Matt Johnson
Senior forward Connor Adams works against a physical Meridian defense in the second half of Saturday’s game at Waterman Field. Adams went on to score the winner in the 2-1 South Whidbey victory.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

“It felt like I was getting head hunted out there.”

Saturday afternoon was a tough time for Connor Adams. The senior South Whidbey forward was soaking up most of the pain for his team, taking hit after hit as he went for the goal protected by the visiting Meridian Trojans.

In all, Adams went down hard five times, but that didn’t stop him from sending the Trojans as losers. With his team tied with the Trojans 1-1 in the final four minutes of a rainy mudfest, Adams managed to finally get loose of the defenders who stalked him the entire game to pick up a loose ball and slam it into the net to give the Falcons the lead and a 2-1 victory.

The win was the first in a season that is already three games old. On March 19, the Falcons tied Port Townsend 1-1 on the road, then travelled to Eatonville to again knot up 1-1. Across the three-game stretch, Adams was the team’s prime scoring threat as he put the ball in the net once in each contest.

On Saturday, the Falcons displayed all the strengths and weaknesses that typify their play so far this season. Using a solid passing game that was near non-existent in 2004, the South Whidbey boys were able to maintain several lengthy possessions against Meridian, twice converting ball control into goals. Yet at the same time, they found themselves victimized from above as dozens of booming kicks by the Trojans literally went over their heads and knocked the Falcon defense back on its heels.

With the rain and the mud on the field, a ground game proved to be the wiser tactic. On the slick, grass surface of Waterman Field, most offensive drives went out of bounds before they could reach either goal. That doesn’t mean the goalkeepers had an easy time of it, however. Even in the final two minutes of the game, South Whidbey’s starting keeper, Alex McGlenn, found himself on the ground and in the air tipping balls away to preserve a victory.

In addition to Connor’s work on the Trojan goal, senior Kevin Dunigan also had success, finding the net in the 36th minute of the game.

Falcon coach Mark Helpenstell said it felt good to get the first victory of the season into the scorebook, even though they had to suffer through a physically brutal game to get it. At one point, he said, game officials threatened to give a yellow card to any Meridian player who laid a hit on Connor Adams.

“He took a beating today,” he said.

The Falcons play next on Thursday against Archbishop Murphy. That game will be held at Waterman Field.

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