The South Whidbey High School soccer team took the first step in securing the island championship by knocking off visiting Oak Harbor 4-2 Tuesday, Sept. 10.
Not only did the Falcons cut down their big neighbors to the north, but they avenged a pair of shutout losses to the 3A Wildcats the past two years.
South Whidbey will try to collect another non-league win when it hosts Port Townsend at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12. The Redhawks dropped their season opener 3-0 at Granite Falls Tuesday.
South Whidbey 4, Oak Harbor 2
When the Falcons’ Mikenna Wicher scored in the first 35 seconds, it appeared South Whidbey was going to control the match, according to coach Terry Swanson.
That wasn’t the case.
Oak Harbor shook off the quick strike and took it to the Falcons, scoring two first half goals to take the lead.
“They quicker to the ball, more aggressive and controlled the game most of the first half,” Swanson said.
The one-goal deficit could have been worse, but two outstanding saves by Falcon goalkeeper Nicole Helseth kept the match close.
At the 35-minute mark, South Whidbey was awarded a direct penalty kick outside the 18. Ashton Helseth’s hard shot was bobbled by the Oak Harbor keeper, and, after a flurry of put-backs within the six-yard mark, freshman Simone White nailed the equalizer.
From that point, the momentum swung South Whidbey’s way.
“Our team came out strong during the second half and we dominated time of possession through most of the remainder of the game,” Swanson said.
White struck again, this time off a through pass by Alison Papritz, to put the Falcons in the lead. Papritz added her own goal with an assist from Julian Larson-Wickman to seal the win.
The South Whidbey defense limited Oak Harbor to three quality shots in the second half.
“Four of our freshmen got quality playing time and contributed to this win,” Swanson said. “It was good start to our season.”
The South Whidbey junior varsity also won, matching the varsity’s 4-2 score.
“Our JV players are getting 60-80 minutes of playing time and a chance to develop their skills,” Swanson said. “Several will likely have an opportunity to play up with the varsity team as the season progresses.”