When South Whidbey High School defeated King’s 1-0 for the District 1 soccer title Saturday, May 5, at Sultan, it earned more benefits than just new hardware for the Falcons’ trophy case.
South Whidbey will jump directly to the bi-district championship game, facing District 2’s top team, Overlake, at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 12, at Sammamish High School. Both teams, win or lose, will advance to the state tournament.
The Falcons escaped the mess of the other bi-district games where six teams will battle for third place and the last remaining allocation into the state tournament.
The win over King’s also avenged two close losses to the Knights during the regular season. King’s slipped by South Whidbey 2-1 in overtime and 1-0 earlier this season during Cascade Conference play.
The victory over the Knights was also a breakthrough win for the Falcons.
South Whidbey finished fourth in the final league standings, and in the six matches against the three teams above it, South Whidbey tied one and lost four others by one goal.
“Our guys played great and I felt we were due,” coach Emerson Robbins said after Saturday’s win. “We’ve certainly lost more than our share of close games this year. I told the guys before the game that we’ve been knocking on the door and now it’s time to open it. And they certainly did.”
The Falcons scored the match’s only goal late in the first half when Reilly McVay was fouled in the 18-yard box. Andrew Curtis calmly blasted in the penalty kick for what would turn out to be the game winner.
Robbins called the match a “hard fought game from beginning to end.”
The teams found few opportunities to score. The Knights out-shot the Falcons 4-2 in the first half; South Whidbey reversed the numbers in the second.
The Falcons nearly scored after the break when Aidan O’Brien fired a solid shot that was stopped by a “great save” by the King’s keeper, according to Robbins.
Falcon goalkeeper Julian Inches “knocked a few dangerous high balls out on King’s many set pieces (corner kicks and long throw-ins), but otherwise was not overly tested,” Robbins said. “Our entire back line stifled attack after attack, not allowing King’s excellent passing to penetrate our defense.”
Graham Colar, Curtis and O’Brien controlled the center third, Robbins said, and Thomas Simms “stripped the ball many times from and/or otherwise controlled one of the league’s most lethal attackers, Roma Billings, throughout the game.”
Robbins also praised the work of Lake Smith, Ari Rohan and Joey Lane.
Michael Lux, who leads South Whidbey in scoring this year with 20 goals, played despite a severe quad bruise that limits his mobility.
“Michael gutted it out and played through the pain the entire game,” Robbins said.
“I am so proud of these guys,” he added. “They work hard at every practice, they have excellent team chemistry and they so deserve this success.”