South Whidbey senior midfielder Kendra Warwick scurried across the center of the field and into Cedar Park Christian’s territory.
With the game tied at 1-1 in the 65th minute of Tuesday night’s Cascade Conference match, Warwick knew she had a prime opportunity to take the lead. Warwick quickly drove the ball into the goalie box and launched a shot to the left corner with three Eagle defenders in tow.
But the ball bounced off the crossbar and rolled to the right.
Falcon junior Leah Rostov trailed close behind Warwick and was in position to finish what Warwick started, but the ball rolled unfavorably and out of her reach. The Eagles quickly cleared the ball, ending the scoring threat.
The play’s unfortunate outcome accurately encapsulated what could have been for the Falcons, and what eventually led to the Falcons tying the Eagles, 1-1.
Offsides penalties and a few missed opportunities were factors in the final score, which was decided after two, five-minute overtime periods.
Warwick spurred most of the Falcons’ offensive drives with quick feet and agile cuts across the pitch. McCleary called her the spearhead of the offense.
“She’s like the glue out there,” McCleary said. “I use the term, ‘energizer bunny.’ The players feed off it a lot. She’s just making a lot of great solo plays that created a lot of the action we had.”
Falcon goal keeper Cassie Neil was another hero on the night, stopping many of the Eagles attacks in their tracks.
She couldn’t keep them, however, from scoring.
The Eagles got on the board first with a goal by Kirstin Nutley in the 28th minute.
The Falcons were unable to respond to close out the first half, but they wouldn’t have to wait long in the second to crack the Eagles defense.
After a pass from senior Anne Lux, Warwick craftily weaved her way through Cedar Park Christian defenders and launched a shot past Eagles’ goalkeeper Zabrina Royal and into the net to tie the match in the 41st minute.
But the Falcons’ aggressive play on offense ultimately worked toward their detriment. Falcon sophomore Mikayla Hezel was called for offsides in the 57th and 58th minutes on scoring chances.
Offside calls for South Whidbey was one of the themes of the evening, McCleary said.
“A lot of offsides calls. I lost count,” McCleary said. “That’s the way it goes. (The Falcons) are pushing the line, so you’re going to get those. I appreciate that they were really pushing it.”
Lux created the scoring opportunity for Warwick in the 65th minute when she was fouled after driving into the Eagles’ territory.
“They had the extra step I think,” Warwick said. “I think doing it so many times wears on you.”
Neil stopped an attempt by Cedar Park Christian’s Grace Hoph to end regulation play with a last minute shot. Neil would once again be tested at the start of overtime, when she faced a free kick by Nutley, which she blocked.
After trading shots on goal in the first overtime period, South Whidbey led as the aggressors in the second, but still couldn’t break through the Eagles defense. Neil saved the tie with a last minute block of a shot by Hoph, who had an open look to score.
“In this game, it just all came together,” Neil said. “It really just gave me so much confidence. Everyone wanted the game for each other and districts and everything.”
McCleary and Warwick agreed that Tuesday night’s match was one of the best matches of the Falcons’ season.
“I feel like this was one of our best offensive games,” Warwick said. “I think we just decided that we need to start winning and we deserve to show off how good we really are. We haven’t had the chance.”
The Falcons lost to Granite Falls, 3-1, on Thursday night and dropped to 2-8-1 overall and 0-7-1 in league play.