A thrilling 1-0 win over visiting Marysville-Pilchuck in the final regular season match Wednesday, May 1, assured the Oak Harbor High School soccer team of a home match in the opening round of the district tournament.
With an assist Stanwood, coached by Oak Harbor grad Kyle Veach, Oak Harbor (6-6-1, 7-8-1) locked up second-place in the Wesco North and the home district match. The Wildcats skipped over Marysville Getchell (5-6-2, 5-9-2), which lost to Veach's first-place Spartans Wednesday.
Oak Harbor will make its first appearance in the soccer playoffs since 2002, Veach's junior season. The Wildcats lost a play-in game in 2003. Previous to 2002, the last district appearance was 1994.
Marysville-Pilchuck (4-8-1) could have tied Oak Harbor for third in the tightly-bunched North with a win over the Wildcats.
Oak Harbor's Andrew Mitchell, assisted by Gavin Stewart, bombed in a goal from 35 yards out just eight minutes into the match. From that point, keepers Kevin Silveira (Oak Harbor) and Cole Bradley-Kuk matched saves.
Oak Harbor dominated the first 10 minutes before play even out. The Tomahawks threatened with four corner kicks but were turned away by Silveira and the Wildcat defense.
Marysville-Pilchuck took its turn dominating during the first 20 minutes of the second half. In one 60-second stretch Silveira made two diving saves and forced another kick wide that thumped off the post.
From that point, Oak Harbor adjusted, according to coach Brian Thompson.
"They started to get super physical after the half and we did not handle it well," Thompson said. "We eventually matched them."
He added, "I am extremely happy the way we held them the second half."
The win, however, could be costly. Senior leader Matt Jensen injured a knee and may be out for the playoffs.
North No.2 seed Oak Harbor hosts South No. 3 seed Shorecrest (10-3-3) at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 4. Oak Harbor lost to Shorecrest 4-1 April 9. Although the Scots are the South's third-place team, they are ranked eighth in the state 3A poll.
The Oak Harbor/Shorecrest winner meets the winner of Shorewood (13-1-1) and Marysville-Pilchuck at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, at Shoreline Stadium; the losers play at the home of the higher seed.
The top three teams from the eight-team, double elimination district tournament qualify for the regional playoffs.