South Whidbey boys soccer could secure a berth to the class 1A state championships with a win over King’s tonight at Waterman’s Field.
The Falcons, 6-5-1 overall and 5-4-1 in the Cascade Conference, are first among 1A teams in the league. Falcon head coach Emerson Robbins said if South Whidbey remains in first, they would be guaranteed at least one match at state. They would still have to fight for higher seeding at the 1A Bi-District tournament, but more than ever this season, the Falcons control their own destiny.
South Whidbey defeated King’s 4-1 in their first meeting March 30. They are currently on a two-game win streak, after victories over Cedar Park Christian and Granite Falls, where they scored a combined 11 goals while conceding zero.
Freshman Graham Colar scored all four of the Falcons’ goals against Granite Falls on April 15. Robbins said it may have been the first time a freshman has scored that many goals in the school’s history. He and fellow freshmen Julian Inches and Michael Lux, as well as sophomore Silas Batiste, have proven to be a bigger asset than Robbins could have ever hoped.
“I’m absolutely shocked at how much of an impact they’ve had,” Robbins said.
Half of the Falcons’ starting roster consists of freshmen and sophomores, which Robbins said is unusual. Perhaps due to inexperience or a lack of a true striker, the Falcons’ biggest challenge this season has been scoring. Their performance against the Tigers, which included 25 shots on goal, indicated growth in that area. But they still need to improve their “physicality,” he said; they’ve been roughed up by other teams.
“It’s definitely had its ups and downs,” Robbins said of the season as a whole. “I feel we’ve had some games that we should’ve done better in, without question, and there have been games where I’ve been pleased and impressed.”
The Falcons address both the positives and negatives of their play following matches and practices. By doing so, South Whidbey has a chance to pat itself on the back, but not look past where they need to improve. Robbins is not excluded from the self-reflections. He admits he is often a culprit by making mistakes and that he lets the team know when he feels better adjustments could have been made during a match.
While half the squad is young, they are grounded by senior leadership. Among the leaders are captains Lucas Leiberman and Lochlan Roberts. Leiberman, who Robbins called a “rock” for the team from his midfield position, contributed to three of Colar’s four goals with assists.
While Leiberman leads by example, Roberts, a defender, takes charge vocally.
“He’s an emotional player who fires the guys up,” Roberts said. “Physically, verbally — every player respects the heck out of him.”
Other players gaining praise from Robbins for their play were sophomore Lake Smith, senior Jordan Henriot and junior Justin Gonzales.
All will be needed against King’s. Tip-off is at 6 p.m.
If the Falcons lose to the Knights, a showdown with Sultan on April 29 could decide which team is guaranteed a slot in the state bracket.