MUKILTEO – The South Whidbey girls soccer team won its 19th consecutive game with a 3-2 victory over Vashon Tuesday in the first round of the 2A state playoffs at Kamiak High School.
Sophomore midfielder Katie Watson scored the winning goal on a soaring, 35-yard free kick with less than two minutes remaining in regulation to preserve the Falcons’ unprecedented flawless season.
The Falcons, who placed third in their only other visit to the state tournament in 2000, improved to 19-0 for the first time in school history and play the Orting-Ridgefield winner in the quarterfinals this weekend. The Vashon Pirates finish their season at 8-8 overall.
“This is history, you bet,” Falcon assistant coach Mike Cotton said. “We’ve been around for 10 or 11 years and we didn’t win a game those first couple of years, but now we’re 19-0. This is a great feeling.”
Unlike the 2000 Falcons, this year’s team, according to Cotton, is loaded with lightning speed. And it showed.
The first time standout forward Claudia Gil-Osorio touched the ball she blew past two Vashon defenders and ripped a line drive to the opposite corner of the goal to give South Whidbey a 1-0 lead with 35 minutes remaining in the first half.
“We definitely got some lightning bolts,” Cotton said. “Comparing this team to that team, we got a lot more speed and more skill. Not that we didn’t have skill then, but it is just that much better this time.”
It was Gil-Osorio’s career-best 30th goal of the season and her fourth in the last three games.
“The support from my team has definitely been the key to my goal scoring,” Gil-Osorio said. “Their passes to me, their encouragement on and off the field and their intensity has really kept me going.”
After giving up a goal to the Falcons’ leading scorer, the Vashon defense was able to shut down Gil-Osorio, limiting her to just a few shots on goal the remainder of the game.
“We knew coming in that No. 18 (Gil-Osorio) had scored 27 or so goals this season and she was fast and dangerous,” Vashon coach Mary Beba said. “And aside from that first goal, I think we really shut her down for the rest of the game.”
The Pirates tied the game 1-1 in the 29th minute on a Francesca LaSalle 35-yard free kick. Unlike Watson’s free kick, which flew over the Vashon goalkeeper’s head, LaSalle’s lengthy boot landed just in front of South Whidbey goalkeeper Alyson Riggs and bounced off the left post and into the net.
The Falcons took back the lead three minutes later after Jenna Wild knocked in a 15-yard shot via a throw-in from Lucy Brennan to give them a 2-1 halftime lead.
South Whidbey kept its lead intact through most of the second half despite an aggressive Vashon offense. However, after numerous opportunities, the Pirates finally capitalized on a header by senior Brittany Jackson, which tied the game 2-2 with less than nine minutes remaining in regulation.
“The girls can handle close games,” Cotton said. “Just last week in the district championship we were tied with Blaine. It went back and forth: 1-1, 2-1, 2-2. It’s not something they’re used to, but I think they really rise to the occasion.”
Goals-SW: Gil-Osorio, Wild, Watson. Vashon: LaSalle, Jackson. Goalkeepers: SW: Riggs. Vashon: McLean. Records-South Whidbey 19-0 overall. Vashon 8-8.