Soccer defends top spot

At the start of the season, the Oak Harbor girls soccer team made a pact they would shut their out their opponents in every game.

Through six contests and a 5-0-1 start, that pact has almost held completely true. After defeating Mount Vernon 1-0 on Thursday night, the Wildcats completed their fifth straight shut out and have only allowed one goal, which came in their first game defeat of Stanwood.

“They’re determined,” head coach Gretchen Hanson said. “Their motto this year has been, ‘it’s time.’”

A new zone defense has been a large factor to the defensive success, but comradery has also played a key role. With eight seniors and six juniors on the varsity roster, it’s apparent the team knows each other well.

“We’ve been playing together since we were little and I think it’s just working really well since we all want to do well for each other,” senior captain Stephanie Black said.

The one-two punch of senior goalkeeper Devon Shulock and junior Sheena Paddock should also not go unnoticed when it comes to shutting opponents out. The exceptional play by both goalies this season has led Hanson to split their time on the field.

“It’s working wonderful,” Hanson said. “They each have their own strengths.”

Oak Harbor 1, MT. Vernon 0

The Wildcats sputtered a little bit on both sides of the field in Thursday night’s contest with Mount Vernon, but there is no doubt they will gladly take the win.

“It was not a pretty game,” Hanson said. “We got the one nil (1-0) and that’s what we’re fighting for and that’s a championship team.”

The first half didn’t see much action by either squad. Oak Harbor had five shot attempts on goal to the zero of the Bulldogs.

The Cats came out a different team offensively in the opening minutes of the second half, attacking the Mount Vernon defense. Senior forward Gretyl Pruss put in the game’s lone goal at the 42nd minute, after senior Tina Nicolas found her open in the middle of the box. Pruss then calmly worked the ball around a defender and placed it in the right corner of the net for her seventh goal of the season.

“We had a really good combination,” Pruss said. “It was set up with Jenny (White) who went up the sideline and made a nice pass to Tina and she just left it right in the center to me.”

Although Oak Harbor out-shot the Bulldogs 18-1 in the game, things got a little scary for the Cats with 14 minutes to go. On a rare visit to the Oak Harbor side of the field, Mount Vernon broke free in front of the net. Facing an open shot on goal, Shulock dove to her left, batting the ball away and denying the Bulldogs a prime opportunity.

“That was wonderful,” Hanson said. “That was a great save on their one opportunity.”

Despite seeing some flaws during Thursday night’s game, Hanson did see things that impressed her, including the play of freshman midfielder Ashley Melcher.

“She stepped it up big in the second half,” Hanson said. “She controlled the middle and distributed well.”

Oak Harbor 2, Cascade 0

The Wildcats picked up their fourth win of the season, defeating Cascade 2-0 on Tuesday night.

Jenny White put Oak Harbor broke a scoreless tie in the 50th minute, knocking in a shot for 18-yards out. Pruss tacked on another goal eight minutes later, providing Oak Harbor with a huge league win and sole possession of first place.

“That was huge,” Hanson said. “For some reason we haven’t been able to get over the hump with them(Cascade), we just played outstanding.”

Oak Harbor plays today, Sept. 27 at home against Lake Stevens. The junior varsity starts at 11 a.m., with the varsity kicking off at 1 p.m. The Cats then round off the first half of WesCo North play on Tuesday, Sept. 30 at Monroe High School.

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