Wildcats take step forward

Monroe coach Ryan Schaeffer walked off the Memorial Field with a 4-1 victory over Oak Harbor Thursday night, but he admitted he never felt comfortable.

“That’s what I hate about playing you guys,” Schaeffer said to OHHS coach Steve Barker. “Our guys can never get a rhythm going, your guys play so hard.”

The Wildcats’ gritty effort was no fluke.

Barker instilled in his players that they may lack experience, but they can always put forth full effort for 80 minutes.

“Their coach is right,” Barker said. “He understands we aren’t as good as them, but he also understands that if you don’t watch out we’ll attack you and we may find a way to out-work and beat you.”

Despite falling to 0-3 on the season, Oak Harbor never rested Thursday night.

The Wildcats maintained pressure on the Bearcats the entire first half, keeping the ball at the opponents’ end of the field close to 50 percent of the time.

Oak Harbor struggled to get shots off, however, and when they had an open break on goal, it was often followed by an offsides call. OHHS had six offsides alone in the first half.

“We don’t do things quickly enough because we’re inexperienced,” Barker said. “So, when we’re around the net, we just don’t snap a shot off.”

Monroe took a lead less than two minutes into the game, after Kent Herman drilled in a penalty kick from close to 20 yards out.

The Bearcats, who out-shot Oak Harbor 10-2 in the first half, tacked on another goal minutes later as a result of a penalty kick.

Goalkeeper Marc Ferguson stopped the initial shot, but a deflection to Jason Milne was quickly drilled in the back of the net.

Ferguson, who is filling in for starter Brian Wandell, has only played goalkeeper for about two weeks.

“He’s giving it everything he’s got, but he’s only had about 15 days to learn something and it’s a tremendous burden on him,” Barker said.

Monroe went up 3-0 on a breakaway in the second half and tacked on another goal via a direct penalty kick with unofficially seven minutes left in the game.

The Wildcats did receive a bright spot when senior Chris Wichers scored Oak Harbor’s first goal of the season with four minutes left.

Taking an assist from Henry Vasquez, who moved the goalkeeper out of position, Wichers nailed the shot into an open net.

“It feels amazing, but it was definitely the whole team, it wasn’t me,” Wichers said. “I was just in the right place at the right time.”

This is Wichers first season of playing soccer, after running track his first three years of high school.

Oak Harbor plays its next game today, April 2 at Lake Stevens. The next home game is 7 p.m., Monday, April 4 against Arlington.

Barker feels if the Wildcats to continue to work like they have of late, a victory should come soon.

“I think we’re making a lot of progress,” he said.

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