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Derek Leyva notched his seventh score of the season Tuesday, giving his family 100 goals as CHS soccer players. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

No faulting their fight.

Despite playing a man down for almost three-quarters of the game Tuesday night, the Coupeville High School boys soccer squad came within a shot or two of upending perennial power King’s.

But, missing their #2 scorer, junior team captain Aram Leyva, who was given a red card after a scrum, the Wolves fell 2-1 on their home turf.

The loss drops Coupeville to 0-1 in North Sound Conference play, 2-3 overall.

If the red card, which was levied in the game’s 22nd minute, is upheld, Aram Leyva will have to sit out his team’s next game, Friday night at home against Sultan.

But there may be hope.

“We will see,” said CHS head coach Kyle Nelson. “We may appeal depending on what we see on the video.”

Coupeville, coming off a big road win Saturday at Nooksack Valley, drew first blood in its league opener.

Barely two minutes into the game, Derek Leyva bounced a ball over the diving King’s goaltender to put his squad up 1-0.

“Great goal from Derek,” said CHS assistant coach Robert Wood. “Unassisted, moving right to left on top of the 18, a bouncing shot the keeper couldn’t handle.

“Home field advantage there.”

The seventh goal of the season for Derek Leyva, it gives him 31 for his Coupeville prep career, but the score was also a bigger milestone.

When the ball hit the back of the net, it was the 100th goal scored at CHS by a Leyva, with Derek’s tally added to the 45 and 24, respectively, of his cousins, brothers Abraham and Aram.

King’s fought back, literally, with its big bruiser “barreling through our players” while knocking in a header off of a corner kick in the 12th minute.

The Knights added to their rally, taking the lead on a give-and-go play, in which their striker, who Wood favorably compared to Will Bruin of the Sounders, slapped a shot just to the side of Coupeville goalie Dewitt Cole.

Coupeville played the final 18 minutes of the first half, and the entire 40-minute second half down a player, but its defense held up magnificently.

Cole and his back-line mates stood tall, while the Wolves continued to push the ball on King’s side of the field.

“We were able to hold them off for the rest of the game,” Nelson said. “And even had a few good attempts on goal.”

Wood agreed, praising “great saves by Dewitt all the way to the final whistle” and a defense anchored by Sam Wynn, who had an “especially fine effort, tracking everyone and everything.”

Derek Leyva, Teo Keilwitz, and Sage Downes brought the heat up front, but, despite their best efforts, the tying goal would not find its way into the net.

While they wanted a win, Coupeville’s coaches departed the pitch pleased with much of what they saw.

“All heart playing a man down for 60 minutes,” Wood said. “All strength from the back line. All focus from the mids and forwards.

“Really happy with their play and passion,” he added. “Lots to work on, but they’re coming together and understanding what is required.”

Tuesday’s game kicked off a four-game run of league games for the Wolves.

After Friday’s home tilt with the Turks (0-0, 0-4), Coupeville hits the road for games at Cedar Park Christian (Mar. 26) and South Whidbey (Mar. 29).

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Gavin Knoblich, here bunting during practice, had one of Coupeville’s two hits Monday night. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The first league game is officially in the books.

And while it didn’t go the way the Coupeville High School baseball squad might have liked, the Wolves will get an almost immediate rematch.

With the creation of the North Sound Conference, CHS and its foes have adopted a style of play similar to what MLB and college teams do – play actual series, and not just a game here, a game a month later against conference rivals.

So, while Monday night’s 10-0 loss in five innings to Cedar Park Christian under the lights at Marymoor Park in Redmond stings, the Wolves get to bounce back Wednesday and host the Eagles.

That game starts at 4 PM on the prairie, then the two squads clash a third and final time Friday back in Redmond.

A young, rebuilding Coupeville team, now 0-1 in league play, 0-3 overall, is facing the King Kong of the NSC right out of the gate.

CPC finished 4th at the 1A state tourney in 2018, and 2nd a season before that.

The Eagles have power pitching, and power hitting, to spare, and they showed it Monday night.

Cedar Park hurlers whiffed nine Wolves, while having to deal with only three CHS runners across five innings of play.

Coupeville’s best opportunity came in the top of the first, when freshman Hawthorne Wolfe ripped a one-out double, then stole third.

He never made it home, however, as Cedar Park blunted any hopes of an early rally, escaping the inning on a fly-out and a strikeout.

The only other hit the Wolves had on the night came in the top of the second, as Gavin Knoblich whacked a lead-off single.

Unfortunately, the junior catcher died a quick death on the base-paths, as did Wolfe when he reached on an error in the fourth inning.

Coupeville threw three pitchers against CPC, with Dane Lucero doing most of the work.

He tossed four innings, including a scoreless first, before giving way to the tag-team of Jonny Carlson and Knoblich to finish the game.

Cedar Park’s big inning came in the second, when it broke a scoreless tie thanks to a couple walks, an error, and a huge three-run triple off of the bat of its #8 hitter, London Conard.

Up 4-0 after that blow, the Eagles added two runs in the third, three more in the fourth, then brought an early end to the game by pushing across a run to start the fifth, invoking the ten-run mercy rule.

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Taking a break from smashing people in the shot put, Emma Smith eyeballs how Coupeville sports teams are doing in the early-season standings. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Everyone’s moving at their own pace.

Spotty weather and raging illness has disrupted the start of spring sports a bit for everyone, but some teams are taking a harder shot to the kidneys than others.

Coupeville High School softball and boys soccer have already played four games apiece, while baseball is finally getting churning with two contests under its belt.

Meanwhile, girls tennis continues to practice, but has yet to face an opponent wearing a different uniform.

And, while track and field is coming off of its first meet, we exclude them from these weekly league standings stories, as the sport isn’t about compiling team win/loss records.

Next week promises a ton more games, weather and health permitting, and yet the Wolf netters still won’t get on the big board, as their first match, barring any late additions to the schedule, doesn’t go down until Mar. 28.

Until then, they, and the rest of us, can spend a few moments marinating in the standings through Mar. 17:

 

North Sound Conference softball:

School League Overall
Coupeville 0-0 2-2
CPC-Bothell 0-0 0-0
Granite Falls 0-0 0-2
South Whidbey 0-0 1-1
Sultan 0-0 0-1

 

North Sound Conference baseball:

School League Overall
Coupeville 0-0 0-2
CPC-Bothell 0-0 0-1
Granite Falls 0-0 1-2
King’s 0-0 1-1
South Whidbey 0-0 2-0
Sultan 0-0 0-1

 

North Sound Conference girls tennis:

School League Overall
Coupeville 0-0 0-0
Friday Harbor 0-0 0-0
Granite Falls 0-0 0-1
King’s 0-0 0-0
South Whidbey 0-0 0-1

 

North Sound Conference boys soccer:

School League Overall
Coupeville 0-0 2-2-0
CPC-Bothell 0-0 0-1-0
King’s 0-0 1-1-1
South Whidbey 0-0 3-0-0
Sultan 0-0 0-2-0

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Chris Cernick will have two less games to play, thanks to Granite Falls abandoning its season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

April just got a lot more open.

The Coupeville High School boys soccer team was originally set to play seven games that month, but now it’s down to five.

Granite Falls abandoned its season Thursday, citing a lack of numbers, which shrinks the North Sound Conference soccer title race from six teams to five.

For Coupeville, the games falling off the schedule are a home game Apr. 9 and a road game Apr. 25.

The Wolves, at least for the moment, are looking at a 13-game schedule, with eight league clashes.

CHS opens the season 12:30 PM this Saturday, Mar. 9 at home against non-conference foe Chimacum.

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CHS softball coaches Kevin McGranahan (left) and Ron Wright run players through practice drills. (Photos by JohnPhotos.net)

Mollie Bailey is one of nine returning players from a team which came a win shy of advancing to state.

Third time’s the charm.

At least that’s the hope for the Coupeville High School softball squad, which has fallen a single win shy of the state tourney two years running.

And, while the Wolves will miss a trio of graduated All-Conference players in Hope Lodell, Lauren Rose, and Katrina McGranahan, the roster is loaded with experience.

Seniors Sarah Wright, Veronica Crownover, and Nicole Laxton top a lineup with brings back nine letter winners.

Joining them are juniors Scout Smith, Emma Mathusek, and Mackenzie Davis, as well as sophomores Coral Caveness, Mollie Bailey and Chelsea Prescott.

Having that kind of experience, and having it so precisely balanced between the classes, is huge.

“Returning nine of 12 varsity players will be key to our run this season,” said Coupeville coach Kevin McGranahan.

“My goals for this season are that the team comes together as a fast-pitch family and trusts in the process,” he added. “If we can do that, we should have no problem competing for a league title and going to districts.

“Sky is the limit for this little team that could.”

Rounding out the varsity roster will be junior Chloe Wheeler, coming off a strong JV season, and freshman Izzy Wells.

The Wolves need to replace Lodell in center field, Rose at shortstop, and, maybe most importantly, Katrina McGranahan in the pitcher’s circle.

Smith was Coupeville’s #2 pitcher last season, while Prescott and Wright also saw time flingin’ heat. Wells arrives at the high school level after being a top hurler in little league.

As the pitching situation firms up, the Wolves will be a force to reckon with when they’re up to bat.

Wright and Crownover, who anchor the team at catcher and first base, respectively, can mash with any diamond duo, Prescott combines power and speed, and the rest of their teammates have shown discipline and skill at the plate.

“Strengths will be our speed and ability to push the opposing defense,” Kevin McGranahan said. “Also our mental toughness will get us through the inevitable bad days.

“Things to work on will be just gelling as a team and our communication on the field.”

Coupeville is coming off a league title in a depleted Olympic League, after narrowly missing the crown a year before against a conference at full force.

The past two seasons the Wolves played in a winner-to-state game, but came up a single strike shy of upsetting Bellevue Christian in 2017, then were stung by Klahowya’s bottom-of-the-order hitters in 2018.

Now, CHS is part of the new North Sound Conference, which pits them against Cedar Park Christian, Sultan, Granite Falls, and South Whidbey.

King’s doesn’t field a softball team, so the Wolves will play 12 league games, clashing three times with each conference foe.

South Whidbey has advanced to state in back-to-back seasons, and might appear to be the league favorites, except…

The Falcons lost all-universe pitcher Mackenzee Collins to graduation, and, even with her flingin’ heat, Coupeville crushed the Falcons 12-0 and 10-0 in non-conference games last season.

With a 6-5 win in 2017 and a 4-1 victory in 2016, CHS has won four straight against SWHS under Kevin McGranahan.

Seniors Crownover, Wright, and Laxton have never lost to their Island rivals, and you have to go back to the regular-season finale in 2015, during Deanna Rafferty’s one season of coaching, to find the last time the Falcons beat the Wolf sluggers.

For Kevin McGranahan, though, it doesn’t matter which team is in the other dugout.

He’s been trying (unsuccessfully) to get Whidbey’s third team, 3A Oak Harbor, on the schedule, and looks forward to match-ups with 1A bruisers like Forks and Lynden Christian.

“Teams that stand in our way … well this is a tough question, as you know we will play anyone, anytime, anywhere … unlike our friends to the North, who keep ducking us year after year.

“I think this year we will not take any of our league opponents lightly; never should take anyone lightly,” McGranahan added. “This year in the new league we need to feel it out and put a choke hold on it early.”

Having four league rivals, and 12 conference games, after making do with just arch-rival Klahowya last season after Chimacum and Port Townsend suspended their programs, is just a bonus.

“I like the idea of being in the new league,” McGranahan said. “It gives us a real chance to earn a league title, not that we didn’t last year, but this year we have a better league schedule and not just three games for the title.

“Also the district tournament is A LOT closer!”

Coupeville kicks things off with a home game against non-league foe Friday Harbor Mar. 12, and currently has a 19-game regular season schedule.

After ending March with a four-game road trip, the Wolves get to close with seven of their last 11 games on their own field.

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