For most of the first half of South Whidbey’s girls soccer match against Port Townsend, the Falcons were looking for an opening into the net.
Attack after attack, the Falcons were stymied by shots that were either too wide or timely defense by the Redhawks. Eventually, freshman Alison Papritz managed to sprint past the Port Townsend defenders and score in the 27th minute.
Then the floodgates opened.
The Falcons defeated the Redhawks 11-2 on Saturday at Waterman’s Field. Eight different South Whidbey players scored in the victory.
Papritz led the team with three goals, while sophomore Farriss Jokinen also scored twice. It was the Falcons’ first victory of the season as they improved to 1-1-1 overall. Falcon head coach Brian McCleary was pleased with the Falcons’ speedy attacking force which capitalized on its opportunities.
“It wasn’t a mistake-free game, but their mentality is to apply pressure and attack hard,” said Falcon head coach Brian McCleary. “That’s really what’s going to be helpful for us, especially going into conference [play].”
McCleary said the large margin of victory could be attributed to the ailing Redhawks girls soccer program. Port Townsend was without some of its key players, including its regular goal keeper. The Falcons were able to make the most out of the situation, he said.
“It really gave us a chance to practice some of the things that we had been talking about in practice without being in duress the whole game,” McCleary said.
McCleary said the Falcons were not trying to pour on scores, but that it took advantage of open chances at the net.
Papritz agreed with her coach that the match was a valuable experience for the team’s growth.
“It was fun to really work together,” Papritz said. “It seemed like our team flowed pretty well in that game. Usually you play really hard teams, so it was kind of a nice easy game.”
Senior Fiona Callahan said the win was an especially important confidence-boost for the teams’ attackers, which she thinks will pay dividends down the roads.
“I think it was really good for our attackers to be able to practice and get the confidence to go up and score, because we really haven’t had that chance against really difficult teams,” Callahan said. “I definitely think more people will be aggressive and more likely to shoot on goal and keep their cool.”
In addition to the scores by Papritz and Jokinen, other Falcons to find the back of the net were Sophie Hammer, Lila McCleary, Carmen Colar, Emma Barker, Izzy Bolding and senior Taylor Hamilton.
Junior Mikayla Hezel, who was on the Falcons’ 4×100-meter relay that competed at state in May and one of the speedier Falcons, sat out the game due to a foot injury. The Falcons relied on Papritz, Hammer, Lila McCleary and freshman Karyna Hezel in her absence, Brian McCleary said. They also added more speed in the central midfield, he said.
“That kind of changed things a little bit,” McCleary said. “I think everyone was trying to figure out what to do. That was part of what was good about the game. We were just able to remind them what we wanted to see. Once they started doing that, that’s when we saw more action at the goal.”
There were three freshmen in prime attacking positions during the match due to Hezel’s injury, as well as senior Carmen Colar sitting out the second half due to quad strain. The players have intangibles that shouldn’t be taken for granted, but are still young experience-wise, he said.
“Some of the freshmen have speed that we didn’t have before,” Brian McCleary said. “It’s a strong freshman class, so I’m kind of OK with it. But, they’re still freshmen and they haven’t played against some of the bigger schools.”