Sports

Wildcats whip Wolves in Whidbey showdown | Soccer

Oak Harbor
Oak Harbor's Nalani Gabbert (23) and Coupeville's Jennifer Spark battle for a header.
— image credit: John Fisken / Whidbey News-Times

They call exhibition soccer matches "friendlies," and Oak Harbor's 2-0 win at Coupeville Thursday, Sept. 6, turned friends into foes.

Though many of the players are teammates on the non-school Whidbey select team, they went head-to-head in a spirited and clean game at Mickey Clark Field Thursday.

The difference in the match was 3A Oak Harbor's ability to  convert on its opportunities while the 1A Wolves misfired on a handful for excellent scoring chances.

The Wildcats started fast, getting three shots -- one bounced off the left post -- in the first minute. The Wolves withstood the barrage, but couldn't stop freshman Suzanne Kaltenbach's boot nine minutes into the match.

Five minutes later, Lauryn Plush became the first Oak Harbor player in five years to score in back-to-back matches when she hit from 15 yards out to make it 2-0.

That ended the scoring but not the chances.

Coupeville coach Dan d'Almeida installed a counter attack offense this fall and his club used the strategy to create opportunities, but the Wolves couldn't slip the ball by Oak Harbor goalie Makenzie Perry.

Four times in the first half, Amanda d'Almeida, like a point guard guiding the fast break, dished the ball ahead to Madison Tisa-McPhee who used her state-caliber track speed to get behind the Oak Harbor defense. Tisa-McPhee had several point-blank shots but was denied by Perry.

In the second half, Coupeville keeper McKayla Bailey stopped the Oak Harbor charge but the Wolves weren't able to cut into the Wildcat lead.

Tisa-McPhee punched in a goal in the 56th minute but it was disallowed because of off sides.

Coach d'Almeida said Tisa-McPhee "brought incredible energy and pace up front; she probably had the best first game that I have seen in my four years with the team."

Oak Harbor coach Jeff Laiblin said, "We were really strong early on, then we got tired and the wheels fell off. Sometimes it wasn't pretty, but they did what they had to do."

D'Almeida was happy with Coupeville's "possession time." He said for those who only look at the final score, the game may seem similar to past years, but the contest, with Coupeville's scoring opportunities, was far from the former efforts.

He added, "I was very pleased that our players were able to adjust to a new game plan just the day before the match...In terms of quality opportunities, this might have been our best effort in several years."

Coupeville goes on the road for three matches, starting at  Cedarcrest Tuesday, Sept. 11, and returns home with South Whidbey at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18.

Oak Harbor hosts Mount Vernon at 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8.

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