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Sophomores save the day
ARLINGTON In Arlington soccers season opener, the Eagles outlasted Oak Harbor to pull off the 3-2 win.
Oak Harbors Kevin Flavin scored first in the games early going, giving the Wildcats a lead they would protect for nearly half an hour.
Early on, the young Arlington offense seemed to struggle to string together passes. Then, in the 17th minute, senior forward Schyler Furrer was sidelined by a yellow card.
But with 11 minutes left in the first half, Arlington ended the shutout, taking advantage of a restart. Off of sophomore forward Brett Strongs corner kick, fellow sophomore Jake Smith headed the ball into the Oak Harbor goal.
The tie carried into halftime, and nearly another 20 minutes beyond that before midfielder Juan Guadarrama scored the go-ahead goal. Five minutes afterward, Strong landed the team an insurance goal on a long kick from the left side of the net.
Strongs goal proved fortuitous, as Oak Harbors Greg Wolfe closed Arlingtons lead to one with less than 12 minutes left in regulation.
But Oak Harbor came no closer after that, as Arlington generally kept the ball in Wildcat territory as the clock ran out.
Arlington coach Mike Gudgeon credited Oak Harbors early goal for energizing his team.
We came out and we were a little flat. The goal woke them up, he said, adding that he was otherwise ecstatic about his teams performance.
True to Gudgeons prediction that the young turnout would animate Arlington soccer this season, all three goals scored against Oak Harbor came from sophomores. Rather than giving much weight to their minimal varsity experience, Gudgeon added that he considered it a strength of the team to have such performances from his youngest players.
Having some sophomores step up to be goal makers was huge, he said. Its the thing that turns a mediocre program into a great program.
With youth on offense, it helped Arlington to have experience in the goal.
Gudgeon saved some praise for senior goalkeeper Keith Bayer, calling him an underrated player in the strong Wesco North conference.
With him, were allowed to do some things on defense because of our faith in him.
An away game against Snohomish loomed next for Arlington on March 18, after The Times went to press.