Sluggish start dooms South Whidbey boys soccer

Falcon junior goalie Charlie Stelling bends down to stop a shot by Archbishop Murphy in the first half on Friday, April 11.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Falcon junior goalie Charlie Stelling bends down to stop a shot by Archbishop Murphy in the first half on Friday, April 11.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Archbishop Murphy retained its spot atop the Cascade Conference boys soccer standings with a 1-0 victory over South Whidbey on Friday, April 11.

It was the Falcons’ first crack at upending the league standings long ruled by the Wildcats. South Whidbey had its chances — 13 shots on goal — including several in the goal area and penalty area that were saved or cleared by Archbishop Murphy.

“They had kickoff first, and you could just see they knew exactly what they were doing and they knew where to make the runs,” said Falcon junior Bryce Auburn. “The first five minutes were rough.”

The Wildcats took the lead early and continued to press the Falcon defenders. In the fourth minute, Brady Henderson scored on an assist by Tyler Ptacek who received the ball off a deflected corner kick.

Early in the match, the game seemed destined to follow previous South Whidbey-Archbishop Murphy contests in which the Wildcats easily prevailed. Through the first 12 minutes, the Wildcats compiled five shots on goal, one score and several runs that put the Falcons on their heels.

“Before the game, coach said how strong they were in the midfield,” said Falcon sophomore Lucas Leiberman. “And we overestimated them and thought they were so much better and were playing all tentative.”

But the Falcons regained their form and composure. They started making runs, moving the ball out of the middle and away from the Wildcats, leading to their first shot on goal by Leiberman. His shot to the goal, like every other shot by the Falcons, was saved by Wildcat goalie Jeff Scavotto.

The loss may have come at a cost greater than the Falcons’ record this season. Falcon defender Tom Swanson fell to the turf in the 25th minute clutching his right ankle, was carried off by teammates and did not return to play. Late in the match, junior forward Kai da Rosa went up for a high ball and was knocked to the turf, without any penalty on Archbishop Murphy. He walked off the field by himself but missed the final five minutes while holding a compression pack to the back of his neck.

South Whidbey had a couple of frantic looks inside the penalty area, including a rocket shot by junior Jeff Meier that missed to the right. Trey Adams, the Falcons’ senior co-captain, had a lofting shot that was saved by Scavotto leaping to knock the ball out in the 33rd. That was followed two minutes later by another Meier shot, also stopped by Scavotto, who recorded six saves.

“We realized why we’re here, that they should be intimidated by us,” Auburn said.

In the second half, Leiberman provided a bit of a lift by attacking the midfield and picking off passes. His quick feet yielded in several transition runs for the Falcons, including a header by da Rosa that sailed over the crossbar and out of bounds.

Archbishop Murphy’s defense held to remain undefeated in league play.

On April 14, the Falcons returned to their winning ways with a 5-1 win against the Granite Falls Tigers. South Whidbey senior Jaidin Jones scored a pair of goals. Senior James Itaya, Leiberman and da Rosa each had a goal as well. The second half of the season starts Wednesday night against King’s in Shoreline.


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