The GU19 Whidbey Islanders soccer squad celebrates after winning the Crossfire Select Cup Sunday. (Kali Barrio photos)
A memento from the last tourney of the summer.
Ayla Muller enjoys the sweet taste of victory. (Charity Graves photos)
Morgan Zylstra played five games in three days and is still smiling.
Lydia Peplinski loves drama. Apparently.
Picking the biggest moment to make her biggest play, Peplinski netted a goal with less than five seconds to play in overtime during the championship game Sunday afternoon, lifting the GU19 Whidbey Islanders select soccer squad to its second win of the day and a tournament title.
Her shot sent the Franklin Pierce Fury down in flames, and the 2-1 win, coming on the heels of a 3-1 drubbing of Bainbridge Island FC in an early morning game, gave the Islanders the crown at the Crossfire Select Cup in Redmond.
Whidbey finished 2-1-2 in the three-day tourney, the cap to the summer soccer season.
The Islanders will continue to practice together, but won’t compete again until after the high school season plays out.
Peplinski sent them out on a huge high, netting both of the goals in the finale.
Trailing 1-0, Whidbey tied things up when Jenn Spark lobbed a free kick over the heads of the Fury defenders, finding Peplinski in mid-stride.
Timing her run perfectly, she snatched the ball away and poked it past a flailing goalie.
After that, the two squads battled back-and-forth through the remainder of regular time, then through two ten-minute overtime periods.
With the referee’s mouth a breath away from signaling the end of play and the beginning of penalty kicks to decide the match, it was Peplinski time.
Taking a pass off the foot of Bailee Olson, Peplinski launched a shot from an impossible angle, shocking the world by burying the ball in the back of the net.
Cue the screaming and hollering.
“The referee literally blew his whistle signalling the end of that half immediately after the ball hit the back of the net!,” said Islander coach Sean LeVine. “It was very exciting for us and well deserved. Champions!”
The win avenged a tie against the same team earlier in the tourney.
“In the earlier game we felt like we dominated and should have easily won,” LeVine said. ” However, they were coming off a 3-0 win that morning, and they were definitely a better team Sunday afternoon. It was a battle!
“Those girls were large, speedy, and aggressive,” he added. “Our organized possession proved to be much better though.”
The Islanders made it to the championship with an offensive explosion in their first game of the day, an 8 AM wake-up special against Bainbridge.
After not scoring in their first three games, Whidbey was locked and loaded.
Erin Rosenkranz punched in a pair, the first off of an assist from Micky LeVine, then Gillian Crossley broke free and converted on a pass from Peplinski.
Winning the title was especially impressive, as the Islanders played several players down for most of the tourney.
Leading scorer Jacalyn Hefflefinger missed the tourney, while Alyssa Cross, Jacki Ginnings and Paige Waterman all were limited in how much playing time they could put in.
With most of the team’s regular backfield out, others stepped up and, while playing out of position, excelled.
Becca Pabona, Ayla Muller and Olson all got nods from LeVine.
“I always tell our players that they are soccer players, not positions, and they proved that Sunday!”