Falcons fall to Garfield in soccer opener

  • Written by Don Mann
It was an evenly played scoreless game at the half, and then the roof fell in on the Woodinville boys’ soccer team at home on Friday in the KingCo opener.

Garfield scored 30 seconds into the second half — on a spectacular 25-yard laser by Preston Hale — and added another two minutes later.

The Bulldogs scored again on a breakaway at the 56- minute mark to make it 3-0 before James Pulse got the Falcons on the board on a direct free kick. Then Garfield scored again two minutes later and won convincingly, 4-1.

Woodinville sophomore Bruce Lee send the ball upfield against Garfield on Friday at WHS. Photo by Don Mann.
"Those weren’t just goals," Woodinville coach Sully Hester said. "They were good goals.

"That first one — I’m not sure we’ll see a better goal than that all season. Nobody could have stopped that shot."

Excluding Pulse’s goal off the set piece, Woodinville only managed three quality shots on goal all night.

"They played their system and we were reacting to that," Hester said. "We had a few opportunities but we’re still struggling with finishing."

It didn’t help that the Falcons were without the services of three experienced starters: senior defender Dillon Reller was out with a broken toe, junior forward Tony North was out with a broken rib, and senior midfielder Joe Bellefeuille was out of town.

"And tonight we only had two healthy subs," Hester said. "At the start of the season we were healthy and our conditioning was great. But losing those guys means we have to get reorganized."

On Friday that was a work in progress, as Hester shuffled the normal lineup, searching for an offensive spark.

Senior midfielder Wes Sagawa played some forward, senior forward Alex Paco played some midfield, and everybody played more minutes than usual.

The loss of Reller — the tall and physical defender — was evident, as the Falcons struggled to get the ball out of its own during the entire second half.

"We came into the season thinking that our strength was our defense," Hester said. "We think we have the best goalkeeper in the league in Logan Richards, we returned two very solid defenders in Reller and David Surdyk, and we returned our two best defensive midfielders — James and Joe. We also picked up Krishna (Balasubramiam), who’s an academy guy. We now have two new defenders back there — Nick Miller and Nick Norton, who are quality guys but they haven’t played a lot in our system."

Miller, a junior, and Norton, a sophomore, will get plenty of on-the-job training, as Reller’s shattered toe — a bad one — is still six weeks away from being healed, he said. North, Hester said, is closer to returning — perhaps in a week, when he gets the doctor’s go-ahead.

The Falcons are now 1-2-1 overall, 0-1 in KingCo — unfamiliar waters for a team that advanced to the state semifinals a year ago. So what has to happen to turn the ship around?

"We have to play more offense," Hester said. "Our goal always is to make the playoffs, but we’re not gonna do it without scoring some goals."

The Falcon offense has produced four goals in four games.

"We can’t do it on defense alone," he said. "We have to find a way to get the ball forward and create some high-percentage scoring opportunities. When we’ve had our chances, we’re still a little anxious and taking low-percentage shots."

Woodinville next plays Ballard at Interbay Field on Tuesday night.

"That’s a game we need to win to get back on track, and it’s a winnable game."  

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