South Whidbey Youth Soccer Club’s U19 men’s team won a division title in December.
FC Wild secured the North Puget Sound League (NPSL) title with a 1-0 victory over FME Xtreme at the Langley Road fields on Dec. 10. Will Nelson, a high school senior, scored the Wild’s only goal in the win.
The team, coached by Ben Rusch, finished the season with a record of 10-2. FC Wild finished in second place in 2016.
The league doesn’t have a championship game; the title is earned by the team with the most wins. Rusch credited FC Wild’s strong nucleus of veterans for having made the biggest impact.
“There is a core of players that I have been coaching for 2 or 3 seasons now,” Rusch wrote in an email. “That’s the real driving force behind the team.”
“We had a strong returning group that almost won the league last season. With all players a year older and more experienced we went in as the favorites I think,” he added.
The Wild needed to beat FME Xtreme, the lowest ranked team in the league, to clinch the title. Rusch said the players entered the game a bit too overconfident.
“In the end our core group of committed seniors came through with Will Nelson scoring a beautiful goal from 25 yards out to clinch the win and the league title,” Rusch said.
Rusch also attributed FC Wild’s success to its center midfielders and defenders, Ari Rohan and Silas Batiste, and center backs Lake Smith and Ethan Sparks.
FC Wild’s goalkeeper, Aengus Dubendorf, earned special recognition from Rusch.
“He played goalkeeper and did a phenomenal job,” Dubendorf. “He really stepped up and made it possible for our team to have this success. Goalkeeper is such a specialized position and when he is hyped to play, I have seen Aengus make some spectacular saves.”
Other South Whidbey select teams also had success or were competitive, according to a press release.
The U15 South Whidbey Island boys team, coached by Rusch, finished third with a 6-3-3 record.
South Whidbey Reign’s U14 girls team, led by Karl Peterson, finished third in the NPSL with a 6-3-3 record.
The U10 Mutiny boys team, coached by Steve Byler, went 3-2-5.