Wildcats blank Bulldogs

A second half lightning strike by the Oak Harbor soccer team helped them gain a crucial 3-0 victory over Mount Vernon Friday night.

“That was a huge, huge game,” head coach Steve Barker said. “We may make it to the playoffs now, we’ve got one more game to win in the second half.”

The Cats came out with an efficient second-half plan, breaking a scoreless tie by netting two goals in the first two minutes of the final half.

“We knew exactly what we were doing,” Barker said. “We had two ideas and we got them both.”

Senior Cody Parker received Oak Harbor’s first score on a crafty play only 30 seconds into the half. Taking the ball almost at the end line in the Bulldogs’ goal box, Parker kicked the ball through the defender’s legs, cut back and booted the ball into the back of the net.

“I think I got lucky,” Parker said. “I was trying to bring it back, I don’t know what I was trying to do, but it went through his legs and then I just shot it and put it in.”

Less than a minute later, senior Grant Bull took a throw-in and worked his way past the goalie for an easy score.

“Both of those goals were just individual hard work,” Barker said.

With a 2-0 advantage Oak Harbor laid the clamps down defensively, content to hold their lead.

“We were deliberately putting seven and eight men behind the ball to counter attack,” Barker said. “We didn’t think they could come through so we just sat on the two.”

Things continued to go smoothly for the Cats until the 71st minute when tempers began to flare. A deliberate shove by the Mount Vernon goal keeper sent Bull hard into the bleachers along the Oak Harbor sideline, causing fans and players to go into an uproar. A leg injury forced Bull to sit out the rest of the game but he was expected to return for last night’s game against Monroe.

“He’s hurting, he’s hurting bad,” Barker said. “I think we’ll be able to get him ready, he’s a warrior, he’ll come.”

A re-energized Oak Harbor team responded to their teammate’s injury by applying more pressure to the Mount Vernon defense in the last nine minutes of the game.

Ryne Fakkema tacked on the Cats’ third goal on a penalty kick after the Bulldogs were called for an intentional hand ball.

“The last one at the end, the penalty kick, was just sweet revenge,” Barker said.

With the victory Oak Harbor moved into the fifth and final playoff spot. However, depending on the outcome of last night’s game against Monroe and games played on Thursday, there are several scenarios that can pan out.

If Oak Harbor won their final regular season game against Monroe, they guaranteed themselves no worse than a tie for fifth place. In the event of a loss last night, Oak Harbor will have to sit and wait to see where they stand as both Mount Vernon and Monroe have Thursday night games.

A number of possibilities exist in the WesCo North depending on the outcome of the final regular season games. The Wildcats could play a tie-breaker as soon as Friday, May 9, a “pig tail” game on Saturday May 10, or wait until Tuesday May 13 to play a first round game at the WesCo South number three.

Regardless of what happens, Parker is excited about the prospect of returning to the playoffs for the second year in a row and in his final season of playing soccer for the Cats.

“I think we’ve come a long way and going to the playoffs just brings us more together,” he said. “We were having troubles in the season sticking together and getting on each other but winning this game shows that we can play together.”

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