Oak Harbor booters go out blazing

"The Oak Harbor soccer team fell one point short of reaching the 4-A Western Conference tournament, but the Wildcats will always hold first place in coach Steve Barker's heart.I'm not going to forget this team, Barker said. I've had some championship teams before and this is a championship team.The Wildcats went on like champions Wednesday, rallying for a 4-3 victory over visiting Cascade. Oak Harbor finished with a 6-4 conference record, missing fourth place by just a point. Edmonds-Woodway, which defeated Oak Harbor 1-0 last month, got the final playoff spot. In addition, the Wildcats were just two points out of third place.One goal was really the difference from getting into the tournament, Barker said. If we could have scored against Edmonds-Woodway, or gotten one more goal against Sehome, we would have gotten in.The Wildcats finished the season as one of the league's hottest teams, winning four of their last five games. The lone loss was to Sehome 4-3.I'm so pleased with the way they came together, Barker said. The boy were playing as well as anyone in the league.Oak Harbor actually finished the season playing six one-goal games.We definitely gave our fans their money's worth, Barker said.Wednesday's game was another crowd-pleaser as the Wildcats fought back from a 3-2 deficit to pull out the victory. Senior Brian Gliniak, off an assist from freshman Kyle Rip, scored the game-winner.Barker started all seniors for the final home game, and all the goals were scored by seniors.Justin Shepard, off an assist from senior Kellen Ward, gave Oak Harbor an early 1-0 lead. The assist was Ward's ninth of the year to set a school record.Then after Cascade tallied two straight goals, the Wildcats tied the score on Tim Abbott's first goal of the season. Abbott got his goal by following up a cornerkick by junior Jess Barker.Cascade broke the tie early in the second half but the Wildcats again came back. Chris Olson, the Wildcats' leading scorer, headed in the game-tying goal, which was set up by a penalty kick by Jess Barker.Then four minutes later, Rip got lose going down the field and launched a high kick that Gliniak headed in for the game-winning goal.Oak Harbor's defense preserved the lead in the final minutes.Cascade tried to put on the pressure in the last six or seven minutes, but our guys wouldn't let them in, Steve Barker said. That was pretty typical of our defense all season. We would give up some goals but our kids never broke. Our defense kept us in a lot of games.The Oak Harbor coach was pleased with the team's all-around effort in the game.Every player contributed, Barker said. That's the way it was all season, too. Each of the boys who played had at least one game where they made a significant difference.Oak Harbor finished with a season mark of 9-6-1.Our boys were disappointed that they didn't make the playoffs. It hurt a little bit to play so well and not get in, Barker said. But they have nothing to be ashamed of. They went out battling. This was just a great bunch. I'm not going to forget this team."

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