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Falcons play ‘lights out’ against Turks
South Whidbey’s victory against Sultan Tuesday night was sealed with a bit of unexpected darkness.
A blackout caused the lights to go out at about the 60th minute of the Cascade Conference boys soccer match. By then, the second-place Falcons had a comfortable 5-0 lead and the game was called by the referees.
“That was a weird game,” Falcon co-head coach Emerson “Skip” Robbins said.
Shelling Sultan with five goals, an unusually high score for a soccer match, was also weird for South Whidbey (4-1-0 conference, 6-1-0 overall). After losing a playoff-affecting game to Coupeville on March 28, the first South Whidbey loss of the season, the Falcons rattled off three straight victories. A formation change helped the Falcons control the middle of the field better, said Robbins, but more importantly, junior forward Kai da Rosa found his form as the team’s main forward and striker. He rattled off 16 shots against Sultan through an on-and-off downpour.
While the Falcons’ offense surged, so has its defense. Robbins said he recorded zero shots by the Turks, which was the team’s mantra early in the season: zero shots on goal.
“I’m always a defense-first kind of coach,” Robbins said.
South Whidbey’s offense got going early on a solo goal by Lucas Leiberman. That was followed by Jeff Meier’s goal assisted by da Rosa.
Falcon senior James Itaya, whose playing time has been sporadic this season, made the most of his minutes with a quick assist to da Rosa on a long pass that led him past the Turk defender for the goal.
Itaya got his turn to find the net, too, on an assist from senior Calvin Shimada.
“I’m really happy with my assist … I was just in the right place at the right time,” Itaya said.
“Seriously, I think God helped me play really well that game. I was calm,” he added, noting that in previous games anxiety led to mistakes.
South Whidbey’s final goal came on a flub by Sultan’s goalie. Falcon Jordan Henriot, playing up from the junior varsity team because of spring break absences and injuries, sent the ball into the box. Sultan’s goalie got his hands on the ball, but it slipped from his grip, allowing Oliver Saunsaucie to boot it in for his first goal of the season after being sidelined for the first five games with a foot injury.
“Even Charlie [Stelling, Falcon goalie] had a couple times where the ball was outside the goal area and he ended up giving them a corner kick,” Robbins said.
About 20 minutes after the halftime break, the lights went out at the field and across Sultan. That’s when the refs called the game over, giving the Falcons their fourth conference win.
South Whidbey is on a three-game win streak while holding its opponents to one goal over that stretch. Thus far, the Falcons have allowed only four goals all season, with two coming from the Coupeville Wolves in the lone South Whidbey loss.
The victory set up a pivotal match between first-place Archbishop Murphy and second-place South Whidbey on Friday. Archbishop Murphy remains the only undefeated team in the league, including a victory over 4A Marysville-Pilchuck and a 0-0 draw against 4A Skyline.
“Everyone’s pumped,” Itaya said of the impending showdown. “They’re in first place, we’re in second. This is kind of a big deal.”