No excuses were uttered by South Whidbey’s boys soccer team following a 3-0 loss to Cedarcrest on Wednesday night at Waterman’s Field.
The Falcons’ foul-ups were easily identified by players and coaches. Instead of playing wide to stretch their opponents out, the Falcons shifted to the center. They didn’t think before they passed and they attempted offensive attacks when there were no openings. It was a tough pill to swallow for the Falcons, but they knew admitting their faults would be the first step in ensuring it does not happen again.
The Falcons’ loss dropped them 3-4-1 overall and 2-3-0 in the Cascade Conference. The second-place Red Wolves improved to 7-1-1 overall and 4-1-1 in league.
“It was just a very ugly game,” head coach Emerson “Skip” Robbins said. “They completely outplayed us in every which way.”
“They’re (Cedarcrest) a good team, don’t get me wrong, but we did not play our game at all. All we did was win balls and send them centrally,” he added.
Most frustrating to Robbins was the breakdown of the Falcons’ game plan. All season long the Falcons have made a concerted effort to play wide and place strain on defenses. That game plan was noticeably missing within 15 minutes after the first whistle, when the Red Wolves secured their first goal. Junior defender Lake Smith said the Falcons stumbled when they moved forward to pressure the Red Wolves attack and were beaten one-on-one by Cedarcrest’s forwards and midfielders.
The goal led to a cognitive shift on the Falcon team, and they were never the same in the following 65 minutes.
“I think after the first goal mentally we kind of gave up and we weren’t really trying as hard,” junior defender Lake Smith said. “We didn’t care for the game as much as we usually do. We were just stabbing a lot. We weren’t thinking. It wasn’t a mental game today.”
The Red Wolves’ second goal came about 20 minutes later, which was mostly a result of miscommunication on the part of the defenders, Smith said.
The Falcons’ offense was just as stymied as they ran into brick wall after brick wall of Cedarcrest defenders. On the front lines of the Falcons’ attack was sophomore forward Michael Lux.
“Their defense was really aggressive,” Lux said. “It was hard to get to the ball because I just wasn’t on my toes enough.”
“We just need to play it wide more. We haven’t been playing wide at all. We need to have people on the touch line and we just need to have more distribution,” he added.
Things changed for the better in the second half as the Falcons’ defense unified and compacted in its efforts, but the offense was still unable to punch through. Repeated efforts by players such as sophomore forward/midfielder Graham Kolar, midfielder Kody Newman, senior midfielder Justin Gonzales and forward Max Cassée were met with strong responses by Cedarcrest. The Falcons managed to set up a corner kick in the 64th minute, but an attempt to place the ball toward the center of the goalie box was quickly cleared to midfield by Cedarcrest’s defense.
Five minutes later, Cedarcrest senior midfielder Thomas Burgess lofted a shot from roughly 40 yards out with an arc that guided the ball out of the reach of sophomore goalkeeper Julian Inches’ outstretched arms and into the net.
“There’s nothing you can do about that,” Robbins said. “I’ve seen that goal happen a couple times in a 30-year career, where it’s looping over the keeper’s head right under the crossbar.”
“It’s almost an impossible ball to stop,” he added.
Lux and Smith said there is some good that can come from the loss.
“I feel like next game, I’m going to be more motivated to work how he (coach Robbins) wants us to work instead of how we were working on the field today,” Lux said.
South Whidbey is third in the class 1A division of the league behind Sultan and King’s. The Falcons played Sultan on Friday night after The Record’s deadline. They host King’s at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 14.