Mind games disrupt Cats

A series of mental mistakes hurt the Oak Harbor soccer team Friday night as they dropped their first game of the season, 3-2 to Snohomish.

“We need to be more intelligent and we need to not allow the opponent to force us into retaliatory fouls,” head coach Steve Barker said.

A frustrated Wildcat team collected three yellow cards and two red cards, forcing them to play the majority of the second half one man down and the final five minutes two men short.

Senior Grant Bull picked up a controversial red card for aggressively slide tackling an opponent with his cleats up 15 minutes into the second half, while junior Ryne Fakkema picked up a red card for a similar play with close to five minutes left in the game. Both players were forced to sit for last night’s game against Arlington because of their actions Friday.

Along with the five cards from Oak Harbor, Snohomish also picked up one red card and three yellow cards.

“The game was of such nature there could have been a considerable amount more (cards),” Barker said.

Aside from getting caught up in mental game of the Panthers, Oak Harbor looked strong.

“If we stay in our game they don’t beat us,” Barker said.

The Panthers struck first on a penalty kick from close to 30 feet out, that sailed over the head of junior goalkeeper Shane McClure. It didn’t take long for the Cats to respond, netting their first goal two minutes later. Working deep in Panther territory, Bull maneuvered around Snohomish goal keeper Ryan Cochran, placing an unassisted goal in the right corner of the net.

Despite taking more shots than Snohomish, the Cats gave up two more goals before the half, including one that slipped through the legs of McClure.

Oak Harbor played an impressive second half, aside from not being able to restrain themselves from reacting to the Snohomish shenanigans.

Freshman Brian Wandell came in as the new goalie and provided some huge saves for the Cats, including a diving stop on the goal line. He allowed no Panther goals for the remainder of the contest.

“He came in off the bench cold and did a great job,” Barker said.

The Cats got their second goal with 12 minutes left in the game on a free kick by senior Kyle Rip. Oak Harbor received the kick due to an intentional hand ball that stopped an amazing flip shot by senior Dan Hinkley from entering the net.

Playing two men down, Oak Harbor was unable to score any more in the closing minutes, resulting in their first league loss and putting them at 1-1 for the season.

Putting aside the excessive penalties Barker was pleased with the improvements he saw with the team, including the strength of the defensive backfield.

“I think we lost the game but we won the war,” he said.

Barker feels if the mistakes can be eliminated, the team can go far.

“If we can do the right things we have a chance to win the league,” he said.

Oak Harbor next plays at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 27, at home against Marysville-Pilchuck.

Results from last night’s game against Arlington will be in Saturday’s News-Times.

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