Nathan Merrill is back to lead the Oak Harbor soccer attack this spring. (Photo by John Fisken)

Nathan Merrill is back to lead the Oak Harbor soccer attack this spring. (Photo by John Fisken)

Prep preview / Oak Harbor soccer

The Oak Harbor High School soccer team will have to grow up in a hurry if it wants to qualify for the postseason.

Graduation robbed the Wildcats of most of its starters from 2017, and only one player who scored last year, Nathan Merrill, returns this spring.

Oak Harbor finished 3-7-2 and in 11th place in the 13-team Western Conference last year (5-8-3 overall), missing the playoffs for the third straight season.

The team’s goal, coach Jeff Laiblin said, is to “get over the final hurdle that we have been stuck on and make the postseason.”

This year’s club is young and inexperienced, but Laiblin said there is a “solid core of returners” to lead the Wildcats into battle.

Returning lettermen include seniors Eric Closson (midfield) and Taylor Jackson (defense); juniors Julian Hinkle (midfield), Kanoa King (defense, striker), Mason Rhodes (midfield) and Merrill (striker); and sophomore Ethan Snell (defense).

Closson received Wesco honorable mention accolades last spring.

Others in the mix for varsity playing time, according to Laiblin, are senior Andrew Eaton (midfield); junior Taiveyon Shaw (midfield, striker); sophomores Ridgely Briddell (defense, midfield), Max Brighton (keeper), Alex Johnston (defense, midfield), Brandon McCracken (midfield, striker) and Jaydon Wallace (midfield) and freshman Jon Pierce (midfield).

The group, Laiblin said, is “showing great chemistry.”

Oak Harbor travels to Lakewood to play in a jamboree at 5 p.m. Thursday, March 8. Stanwood (1-13-2 last year) visits for the home opener at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 10.

More in Sports

Oak Harbor goes unbeaten in 4 divisions / Girls wrestling

Four members of the Oak Harbor High School girls wrestling team went… Continue reading

4 Wildcats reach finals at Hurricane Harris Invitational / Boys wrestling

The Oak Harbor High School boys wrestling team snared a first and… Continue reading

4th-quarter rally runs out of time, Wolves fall / Boys basketball

An avalanche of three-pointers in the fourth quarter wasn’t enough for the… Continue reading

Coupeville can’t hold lead / Girls basketball

Letting a win slip away, the Coupeville High School girls basketball team… Continue reading

2nd-quarter woes cut down Wildcats / Boys basketball

A sloppy second quarter tripped up the Oak Harbor High School boys… Continue reading

Oak Harbor jumps on Falcons early, coasts to win / Girls basketball

The Oak Harbor High School girls basketball team blitzed South Whidbey in… Continue reading

Wolves finish 2nd in 1st competition / Cheer

After nearly a decade without entering a cheer event, Coupeville High School… Continue reading

Wolves hit pressure-packed free throws to hold off Friday Harbor / Girls basketball

Hitting clutch free throws at the end proved to be the difference… Continue reading

Wildcats begin season with strong start / Girls wrestling

Four Wildcats won both their matches as the Oak Harbor High School… Continue reading

Most Read