Shorecrest would agree.
Oak Harbor High School is playing its best soccer of the season right now, according to coach Brian Thompson, and the Wildcats couldn’t have picked a better time.
Oak Harbor upset eighth-ranked Shorecrest 2-1 in a shootout in the opening round of the district tournament at Wildcat Memorial Stadium Saturday, May 4.
The Wildcats are making their first appear in the postseason since 2002 and picked up their first district win in nearly 20 years.
Thompson said he believes his club’s best game is yet to come. The Wildcats may need that effort in their next match. Oak Harbor (8-8-1) takes on top-seeded and fifth-ranked Shorewood (14-1-1) at Shoreline Stadium at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, in a winner to state match.
Shorewood defeated Oak Harbor 4-1 April 16. The Wildcats, however, also lost 4-1 to Shorecrest during the regular season.
Shorewood had a tougher time than expected in the opening round of district, nipping the North’s fourth-place team Marysville-Pilchuck 1-0 in overtime Saturday.
If Oak Harbor defeats Shorewood, it will play the winner of Glacier Peak/Meadowdale for the district title at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at Shoreline.
If Oak Harbor loses, it will need to win two straight matches to claim the third and final berth out of district to the state tournament. The first game is set for 4 p.m. Thursday at the home of the higher seed.
Wildcat assistant coach Jeff Laiblin agreed with Thompson and said “we played our best game of the season” in the win over Shorecrest.
Oak Harbor, which had its share of scoring opportunities throughout the match, converted the game’s first goal in the 25th minute. Gavin Stewart made a nice run down the left side and sent a cross to Caley Powers. Power rammed home the goal on a “world-class finish,” according to Laiblin.
The Wildcats took the 1-0 lead into halftime thanks to outstanding defense, including a key play by Ben McCornack, who cleared a dangerous ball off the line.
Goalie Kevin Silveira continued the shutout with a tremendous save on a break away in the 50th minute, then Garth Wescott cleared the ball on the following corner kick.
Shorecrest finally broke through with a 60th-minute goal by Jack Neffner on Axel Wickstrom’s assist.
Both teams had other opportunities over the final 20 minutes of regulation but failed to dent the net.
Nor did either team sneak in a goal through the two sudden-death overtimes.
In the shootout, Oak Harbor’s Danny Ross, Dakota Powers and Alex Krantz scored on consecutive kicks; each was matched by Shorecrest.
Stewart made it 4-for-4 for Oak Harbor, then Silveira stopped the Scots’ fourth try, setting up Caley Powers for the potential game winner. Powers’ shot was true and sent Oak Harbor to the district semi-finals.
Laiblin said, “Caley and Kevin played their best games of their careers today, and the team as a whole played great.”
Yes, the best of the season.