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Two-year skid to Cedarcrest soccer ends for South Whidbey
Playing fast and physical paid off for the South Whidbey boys soccer team as it defeated Cedarcrest for the first time in two years Tuesday night.
South Whidbey scored two goals in the first half and outshot Cedarcrest nearly two-to-one in a 2-1 victory.
“We were pumped because this was the first time we beat them in a while,” said Lucas Leiberman, Falcon sophomore midfielder.
If not for a last-minute miss by the Red Wolves, the game might have ended differently. In the final minute, Cedarcrest had a penalty kick inside the goalie’s box, but the shot bounced off the left post and went out of bounds, preserving South Whidbey’s narrow lead for the final seconds.
“I was in the heat of the moment,” said South Whidbey junior goalkeeper Charlie Stelling. “They got in a final PK [penalty kick] in the last two minutes and I almost completely lost it. Luckily, it hit the post. It was all relief.”
In past years, the Red Wolves have torn apart the Falcons’ defense, scoring three goals in each of last season’s matches. This time, Cedarcrest looked like it would follow past performances. Within the first three minutes of play, the Red Wolves got off two quality shots on the goal, though both were stopped by Stelling.
Finding its footing in a new formation, South Whidbey pressed up the field. Falcon junior forward Kai da Rosa booted a hard shot from in the box that Red Wolves keeper Aaron Kussman caught.
Cedarcrest countered with a couple of looks at the goal.
From the eighth minute on, however, the Falcons ruled the field. Experimenting with a different lineup and formation, South Whidbey brought in senior defender Calvin Shimada for a throw-in near Cedarcrest’s goal. The strong-armed senior threw nearly 20 yards into the goalie’s box to da Rosa for a header shot on goal that Kussman stopped. On the ensuing reset by Kussman, however, Falcon junior Andy Zisette got the ball, took it down the sideline and sent it into the middle for da Rosa, who knocked it into the goal and through the tattered net in the 11th minute.
“We did good,” said Leiberman, whose ability to possess the ball and move through defenders was vital in South Whidbey’s victory. “We just started a new formation … because we were getting beat in the middle the last few games.”
Celebration was short lived by South Whidbey. Cedarcrest answered with a goal by Cedarcrest’s Kyle Walsh. A quick transition from defense to offense caught South Whidbey off-guard and let Walsh creep into the box for the point-blank shot.
South Whidbey recovered and got back to its harrowing offense thanks to its midfielders rarely letting the ball cross the center line. The Falcons had drawn their defenders past the centerfield line and South Whidbey retook possession. Falcon senior co-captain Trey Adams sent the ball to the left of the goalie’s box for junior Kameron Donohoe to take a rocket shot that sailed into the net.
“Like coach says, ‘80 minutes of hell,’ just put pressure all the time, non-stop,” Leiberman said of the team’s ability to keep the ball near the net after Cedarcrest stopped a first shot on goal.
Much of the second half was controlled by South Whidbey. Though the Red Wolves found several looks at the Falcon goal, none were as crucial as the last-minute penalty kick saved by Stelling.
“It’s always nerve-wracking because they control it in the center and pass it out or take a shot,” he said of the Red Wolves’ offense that found several shots in the final 40 minutes.