COUPEVILLE — South Whidbey’s defense made the mistake, and its defense made the stops Tuesday against Whidbey Island rival Coupeville.
The Falcons rebounded from a defensive lapse in the first half and shut out the Wolves for a 3-1 win Tuesday.
“We were winning the ball and a lot of the possession was going our way,” said Falcon head coach Ben Rusch.
South Whidbey was coming off three consecutive losses. The Falcons’ offense struggled in those matches, and its defense was blasted for 17 goals in three games. Against the Wolves, the Falcons (1-2 Cascade Conference; 1-3-1 overall) finally got the offense rolling.
Pressure early put the Wolves on their heels. A corner kick in the 8th minute by Falcon junior Maia Sparkman dropped for senior Paige Farmer to kick in the goal.
Perhaps preoccupied with the previous score, a few minutes later the Wolves got a breakaway goal after Wolf senior forward Madison Tisa-McPhee dribbled past her defender, drew Falcon senior goalie Ellie Greene out and evaded Greene’s slide with a tap to the left and big kick into the net.
“Ellie came off the line a little bit late,” Rusch said.
Coupeville persisted as the aggressor for the next 15 minutes. The Wolves had a pair of shots on goal that just missed the net either high or wide.
Then South Whidbey remembered it was in a rivalry match. The Falcons finished the first half with another five shots, three of which were saved by Wolf keeper McKayla Bailey.
The Falcons came out firing in the second half. South Whidbey’s defenders held their shape and cleared the ball to the midfielders and forwards, who pressured Coupeville’s defense in the middle and along the sidelines. Falcon sophomore forward Kiana Murray entered the game and quickly scored a through ball from senior Hayley Newman. Late in the match, Sparkman scored on a free kick over a wall of Coupeville players.
“It was a really physical game,” Rusch said. “We were getting knocked around a little bit.”
Lakewood flipped the score on Thursday, beating South Whidbey 3-1.
“It was a game we could have won,” Rusch said.
South Whidbey struck first in the 20th minute. Grimm threw in the ball past the defenders, which allowed Murray to get a good look and score her second goal of the season.
Lakewood scored in the final seconds of the first half. The Cougars barraged Greene in the goal, and on the second deflection kicked it in for a 1-1 tie at halftime.
In the second half, the Cougars added two more goals.
“People were getting hit and kicked and pushed,” Rusch said.
“They were just relentless.”
South Whidbey played without four starters: senior Sienna Schaal, junior Jaime Rodden, Farmer and freshman Kenda Warwick.
Rusch said he will work on coaching the Falcons to pressure the other team up the field and not allow the other team to possess the ball.