South Whidbey won all the numbers battles in the 1A District 1 championship match against King’s, save for the final 1-0 score, an upset victory for the Knights.
The Cascade Conference’s top two 1A teams finished second and third overall in the league standings after South Whidbey won both head-to-head matches. Ready for a rematch with a state berth on the line, King’s played to a scoreless game as South Whidbey’s shots were off the mark.
As it had all season, South Whidbey fired off several shots on goal. But unlike the Falcons’ fortune in league play when they tallied 79 goals, the ball never found its way past King’s goalie Lars Helleren.
“It was a very tough loss,” said Falcon head coach Emerson “Skip” Robbins. “We absolutely outplayed them. We out-shot them. We controlled it. We couldn’t put it in the back of the net.”
“The opportunity was there, we just couldn’t take advantage,” he added.
Both teams played 80 scoreless minutes of regulation plus two five-minute “golden goal” periods, setting up a penalty kick shootout. Robbins praised Falcon senior goalie Charley Stelling for stopping one shot and nearly saving the first shootout goal that scraped the top of his outstretched fingers. But King’s won 4-3 after South Whidbey’s first shot by normally sure-footed senior Jeff Meier barely missed the goal and senior Kameron Donohoe’s strike was saved by Helleren.
“Kam really hit it well,” Robbins said of Donohoe. “I don’t think he could have hit it much better.”
On Monday, Robbins said he took some of the blame for losing upon himself for not adjusting to the formation King’s employed. South Whidbey’s main striker, senior Kai da Rosa, was bottled up by the Knights’ strategy and unable to break free as he had in previous meetings.
South Whidbey now faces a loser-out scenario in the bi-district tournament. The Falcons will face the winner of a May 12 game between Seattle Academy and Sultan at 5 p.m. Thursday, May 14 at Sultan High School. South Whidbey has defeated Sultan three times this season by a combined 28-0, including a 3-0 win in the 1A District 1 tournament.
“We’re resilient,” Robbins said of the upset loss to King’s. “The bottom line is if you want to go all the way, you’ve got to beat every opponent along the path.”
“We’ll hopefully be ready,” he added.