By David Krueger Herald Writer
SHORELINE — It has a new head coach and almost a brand new soccer team but the Shorewood Thunderbirds are still one game away from the same result last year.
Behind first-year head coach Bill Wilkins and four returning starters, the Shorewood soccer team is one game away from winning its second consecutive district championship after a 1-0 win against Oak Harbor in a 3A district semifinal game Tuesday night at Shoreline Stadium.
The win also clinches a berth in the state tournament for the Thunderbirds.
“It’s exciting. Each year’s different and this year we had a fair amount of change in personnel,” said Wilkins, who was the junior varsity coach at Shorewood for the last two seasons. “… It takes massive pressure off and it makes the game all for fun. You want to win, but it’s nice knowing the goal of getting to state is already accomplished.”
Kabir Kahn scored the lone goal of the game after dribbling around a pair of Oak Harbor defenders in the 13th minute and freeing himself up less than five yards away from the goal.
The goal gave the Thunderbirds, who advanced to the state quarterfinals last year, the early lead and helped alleviate some pressure. Although Wilkins said it’s always nice to add more.
“It takes some pressure off and that’s a big deal. The game becomes enjoyable after the second goal,” Wilkins said with a smile.
Oak Harbor, which plays Stanwood in a loser-out game on Thursday, continued to attack the goal late in the game. The Wildcats best scoring chance came with five minutes to go in the game when they rocketed a shot at Shorewood goalkeeper Calvin Crawford who deflected it right back to Oak Harbor’s Dakota Powers.
Powers returned another attempt that Crawford appeared to get a piece of as well and send around the goal.
“Calvin’s been a great story,” Wilkins said of the senior student body president who will be attending Washington State University next year. “There was an interesting moment in his career at Shorewood. He wanted to be a field player, but that wasn’t going to work out. He had to bide his time behind two good keepers and now he’s just a great leader.
“He had to make a decision, ‘Am I willing to play goalie?’ He went for it and I think today he’s glad he did.”
The Thunderbirds look to repeat as district champions when they take on the winner of the Glacier Peak-Meadowdale game at 7 p.m. Saturday at Shoreline Stadium. Both teams in that game will advance to the state tournament, as will the winner of the third-place game at 5 p.m.
At Shoreline Stadium
Goals–Kabir Kahn (S). Goalkeepers–Oak Harbor: Kevin Silveira. Shorewood: Calvin Crawford. Records– Oak Harbor 8-9-1. Shorewood 15-1-1.