Sports

No net gain

Senior Josh Helpenstell steps over a sliding Lakewood defender Thursday night at Waterman Field to take a shot at the net during South Whidbey’s 3-1 loss to the Cougars. Helpenstell scored South Whidbey’s only goal in the game, which was the Falcons’ fourth loss in a row. - Matt Johnson
Senior Josh Helpenstell steps over a sliding Lakewood defender Thursday night at Waterman Field to take a shot at the net during South Whidbey’s 3-1 loss to the Cougars. Helpenstell scored South Whidbey’s only goal in the game, which was the Falcons’ fourth loss in a row.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

Before Thursday night’s soccer game between South Whidbey and Lakewood High schools at Waterman Field, Falcon coach Mark Helpenstell looked back a 3-1 loss to Granite Falls Tuesday night.

The game was the third loss in a row for the Falcons, who are struggling to get out of the basement of the Cascade Conference. Helpenstell said his team outplayed the Tigers in the game, but did not have the goals to win.

“We outplayed them,” he said. “We’re just struggling to finish.”

With that statement, Helpenstell may have hit on a description for the season. Later that evening, the Falcons dropped what seemed to be a sure-win game to Lakewood 3-1. It was the team’s second loss to the Cougars this season. With only three conference games left on their conference schedule, the Falcons are almost out of contention for a playoff spot. The lost the first game of two to the only other 3A team in the conference, Cedarcrest, on April 19 by a score of 4-1. Now 1-6 in the conference, South Whidbey is in last place, three games behind the Red Wolves and in need of three straight wins.

South Whidbey players and their coach have maintained throughout the season that the Falcons are a squad with the potential to play with and defeat any team they face. But bad breaks and an offense that scored just 15 total goals over the course of 13 games has left the Falcons without the ability to come back from a deficit — even when they are dominating a game.

Thursday’s matchup between the Falcons and Cougars was a prime example of this. For most of the first half, the Falcons pinned Lakewood in their own zone and was dominant in the midfield. South went up 1-0 in the opening minutes on a Josh Helpenstell goal kick, then continued to press the Cougars. Helpenstell had two more scoring opportunities in the first 30 minutes of play, but shot wide or high on both occasions.

When the Cougars did break out, they scored. Twice before the end of the first half, they isolated South Whidbey goal keeper Sam Lungren and put the ball away. The winning goal came with less than 10 minutes to play in the half.

In the previous game between the two teams, on April 11, the Falcons lost 2-1 with a spring-break depleted lineup. Mark Helpenstell said after that game he hoped for better in a second meeting with a complete lineup.

In Tuesday’s game, junior Kypher Koska was the lone Falcon scorer. Three days earlier with Steilacoom in town, the Falcons had their most productive game of the year, tying 3-3. Scoring was Helpenstell in the 26th minute, senior Kyle Calkins in the 33rd minute on a Helpenstell assist, and senior Michael Defouw in the 78th minute on a Kevin Dunigan assist.

Next up for the Falcons is a road game against Archbishop Murphy on Tuesday. The Falcons beat the Wildcats 1-0 in the first meeting of the two squads on March 31.

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