Archbishop Murphy held onto its Cascade Conference lead in a 1-0 win over South Whidbey on Tuesday.
The game was marred in Falcon head coach Emerson “Skip” Robbins’ opinion due to some unenforced physical, “dirty” play that jeopardized his team’s safety and health.
“Some of the referees don’t protect these boys the way they should,” Robbins said.
“Coaches, we’re teachers. We’re teaching these boys not only soccer skills but also hopefully life lessons. Play hard, play clean, but don’t hurt players.”
Robbins said a couple of bad plays stood out. One included a player stomping on senior Davin Kesler’s foot after he was already prone on the field, which drew a yellow card for the offending Wildcat. The other was an open-hand slap to Falcon senior Andy Zisette’s face in front of the South Whidbey bench, unseen by refs.
“If the referee isn’t going to enforce it, then the coaches have to,” Robbins said, adding that he’d take one of his players out for committing that kind of foul. “We have a responsibility to protect our student-athletes more than winning games.”
Falcon senior forward Kai da Rosa was also issued a yellow card for bowling over the Wildcats’ keeper.
Through the first half, the game was tied at 0-0 with each team getting a few shots on goal. The Wildcats broke the draw in the second half after junior midfielder Brady Henderson beat two Falcon defenders to boot in a low shot to the far post past Falcon keeper Charley Stelling.
It was the first goal South Whidbey allowed this season. This was also the Falcons’ first loss.
Archbishop Murphy was able to effectively play keep-away with strong possession the rest of the match.
South Whidbey tried to counter with different formations to add more players on offense, hoping to get a quick transition and score. But the Falcons were unable to punch in a few shots.
The Falcons hosted fellow 1A Cascade Conference opponent King’s on Friday, after The Record went to press. Robbins said he didn’t envision that kind of loss would impact South Whidbey in either the King’s game or the rematch against the Wildcats.
“I don’t expect it to affect their play at all,” he said. “They know what’s on the line, they know the rivalry and they know how King’s played in the past.”