Sports

Soccer: Wildcats show growth in loss to top-ranked GP

Oak Harbor’s Isaiah Trower, right, battles Glacier Peak’s Juan Machuca-Garin for a loose ball while Caley Powers closes in.  - Jim Waller/Whidbey News-Times
Oak Harbor’s Isaiah Trower, right, battles Glacier Peak’s Juan Machuca-Garin for a loose ball while Caley Powers closes in.
— image credit: Jim Waller/Whidbey News-Times

Playing in the most talented 3A soccer league in the state can be a challenge for the young Oak Harbor High School team, but the Wildcats showed some of their growth in a 4-1 loss to visiting Glacier Peak Saturday, April 16.

Glacier Peak is the defending state champion, ranked No. 1 in the state and ranked 11th nationally. Wesco 3A also includes Shorecrest, which is ranked No. 2 in the state and 15th nationally, and Shorewood, which is ranked seventh in the state poll.

Oak Harbor coach Brian Thompson counters with a team that starts four freshmen and several sophomores, not a recipe for success in the rugged Wesco 3A.

When a coach loses 4-1, he rarely says he is "ecstatic" or "really happy" about his team's performance, but those are the words used by Thompson to describe the Wildcats' effort against Glacier Peak.

The Grizzlies defeated Oak Harbor 7-0 earlier this year, and Thompson said, "We have picked up our game, but people don't see that when we don't win." Oak Harbor has only one win in 11 matches this spring.

When Michael Shevchuck punched in a goal in the 73rd minute Saturday, it was Oak Harbor's first goal in three years against Glacier Peak, and after the Grizzlies dominated play early, Oak Harbor forced the action to the middle of the field from midway through the first half until the end.

At the beginning of the season, Thompson called his freshman class the best group of soccer players to enter Oak Harbor High School in years. Nothing as changed that perception and he sees this year's growing pains resulting in wins down the road.

Thompson said, "They have made lots of growth, but they still make some freshman mistakes." One of those mistakes came on the Grizzlies' third goal when a freshman defender didn't rotate back to cover the GP player who eventually scored.

Thompson said, "I think that we are starting to believe that we can play."

Four ninth-graders start and "they usually don't come out," Thompson said. He added that until high school most players only compete against players their own age, and the strength, speed and talent of upperclassmen can be a shock to the young players.

Thompson is trying to build for the future but also to "win this year to make the playoffs."

He noted that everyone, not just the freshmen, is "improving" and "a lot are getting better."

In spite of being 1-8 in Wesco play, the Wildcats are still in the running for the sixth and final playoff spot with five matches left. They trail Lynnwood (2-8) by a half game and meet the Royals tomorrow, April 19, on the road at 7:30 p.m.

Oak Harbor hosts Meadowdale (4-6) Thursday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m.

Mountlake Terrace (0-9) sits behind Oak Harbor in the standings; the two teams meet at Lynnwood Tuesday, April 26.

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