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Catcher Gavin Knoblich is one of five starters who can return for a Coupeville baseball team which finished its season strongly. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The Wolves are done, while the Falcons still have a shot.

The Coupeville High School baseball squad, which beat the odds by making the playoffs after an 0-12 start to the season, dropped a pair of close games Saturday at the bi-district tourney in Bellingham, bringing its season to an end.

Meanwhile, South Whidbey split two contests, and gets to return to Sehome High School next Saturday to play a winner-to-state, loser-out game.

The Falcons, the #2 seed from the North Sound Conference, opened the day by beating Mount Baker 5-0, before falling 5-1 to NWC kingpin Cedar Park Christian in the semifinals.

Coupeville fell 6-1 to Northwest Conference champ Meridian, then exited after a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Emerald City League champ Overlake.

Cedar Park (19-3) and Meridian (11-10) won two games apiece, clinched tickets to state, and face off May 11 for the district title.

That same day, South Whidbey (18-4) plays Overlake (15-5), while King’s (12-10) faces University Prep (10-7).

The winners of those games are state-bound, as well, and return to the field in the afternoon to decide the district’s #3 and #4 seeds to the big dance.

Mount Baker (9-13) and Coupeville (7-14) are done, joining Lynden Christian (11-14), which was eliminated in an earlier play-in game.

How Saturday developed for the Wolves:

 

Game 1:

Coupeville struck first, but it would turn out to be the only run they got off of Meridian ace Dylan Hickok.

Freshman Hawthorne Wolfe whacked a one-out single off of a fielder’s glove, stole second, then came around to score on an RBI single by Dane Lucero in the bottom of the first, promising big things.

But, while the Wolves put runners aboard in four of the next six innings, they couldn’t push them across the plate, something at which the Trojans fared slightly better.

Meridian picked up a run of its own in the bottom of the first, and the game stayed knotted at 1-1 until the bottom of the third, as Lucero and Hickock dueled in the sun.

The Trojans finally broke through thanks to a lead-off double from Brayden Zender, a shot which hit Earth (barely) in fair territory, before shooting away from the fielder into foul territory.

Big fans of playing small ball, and very adept at it, the Northwest Conference’s best 1A team plated the eventual winning run on a suicide squeeze, then added two more in the inning thanks to a bloop single which dropped in between a pair of Wolf fielders.

Up 4-1, Hickok was in charge, but also probably saying a silent prayer of thanks after his squad put up another run in both the fourth and sixth innings.

Coupeville, after going down 1-2-3 in the second, had runners in scoring position in the third, fourth, and sixth innings, but came up a hit shy each time.

In the third frame, Shane Losey lofted a little flare to left for a single, but he eventually died a slow death at third base.

An inning later, Lucero drilled a lead-off single and Gavin Knoblich bunted him over to second, but that was where he remained as the Wolf rally sputtered out.

Coupeville’s final best chance came in the top of the sixth, with Lucero getting plunked and Ulrik Wells lashing a single.

But with two on and two out, Hickok dodged one final time, inducing an inning-ending ground-out before retiring CHS in order in the seventh.

The Wolves rung up six hits in the opener, with Lucero punching a pair of singles in support of his own pitching.

Matt Hilborn, Wolfe, Wells, and Losey also collected base-knocks.

 

Game 2:

With their backs to the wall, the Wolves found themselves facing a familiar foe, but this time it almost turned out radically different.

In the second game of the season, Coupeville suffered one of its few blow-out losses this season, falling 13-1 to Overlake.

Jump forward to Saturday afternoon and CHS pushed the Owls hard, carrying a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth.

With Hilborn keeping Overlake at bay — he gave up a pair of doubles in the early going, but stranded both runners — Coupeville had a prime opportunity to jump out to a lead.

It didn’t come for quite awhile, though, as the Wolves stranded Knoblich at third base in the second and frittered away a lead-off double from Lucero in the fourth.

Coupeville finally cracked the scoreless tie thanks to some smartly-done small ball of its own.

Losey scampered to first when a third strike got away from the Overlake catcher, stole second, went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Hilborn, then scored on a Wolfe RBI single.

Overlake responded quickly, however, putting together three hits and a walk in the bottom half of the fifth and turning it into three runs.

A Knoblich single went for naught in the sixth, but Coupeville rallied in the seventh, plating one and putting the tying run at third.

Back-to-back walks to Losey and Hilborn got the inning off with a bang, but Overlake picked up two outs on grounders to even things out a bit.

The second of those rollers, coming from third-baseman Jake Pease, brought in a run, cutting the lead to a single score.

But that game-tying run, represented by Wolfe bouncing on the bag at third, never got to come down the line, as the game ended on a come-backer to the Owls hurler.

Wolfe and Knoblich each had a pair of singles in the season-ending loss, while Lucero’s final prep hit was a two-bagger.

The defeat brings an end to the high school careers of seniors Hilborn, Losey, Pease, Lucero, and Bryce Payne, but CHS coach Chris Smith can return starters Wolfe, Knoblich, Wells, Daniel Olson, and Mason Grove, as well as several key reserves.

While Coupeville lost its first 12 games, it was highly competitive during that streak.

The season turned around with a 4-3 home win over South Whidbey, a loss which eventually cost the Falcons a share of the league title.

After that, the Wolves got their bats cookin’ and swept three-game series from Sultan and Granite Falls to nab the league’s final playoff berth.

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Backup goalie Simon Socha held Meridian scoreless for all 40 minutes he played Saturday, but it wasn’t enough to save an injury-ravaged Coupeville soccer team in a loser-out playoff game. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Those who were still left standing gave everything they had.

An injury-ravaged Coupeville High School boys soccer team finished its loser-out district playoff game Saturday night missing players who accounted for 31 of the 34 goals scored this season.

And yet, even playing with a shattered lineup, the Wolf booters stayed close with Meridian, the #1 seed from the Northwest Conference, before falling 3-1.

The loss, coming on the field at Whatcom Community College, drops Coupeville to 6-10 and ends its season.

In other playoff games Saturday, King’s shocked South Whidbey 3-2 in the district championship game, avenging two regular-season losses, while Mount Baker nipped Lynden Christian 2-1.

Those four teams, along with Meridian, advance to bi-districts, and King’s is already assured of a trip to state.

South Whidbey, which entered the night 13-1, with its only loss to 2A Burlington-Edison, now has to win back-to-back loser-out games or it will miss the big dance.

Thanks mainly to injuries, Coupeville entered play Saturday missing several starters and key reserves, including leading scorer Derek Leyva.

The team’s #2 scorer, Aram Leyva, and starting goaltender Dewitt Cole made it through the first half against Meridian, and then they too went to the bench for good.

Still, the Wolves battled back, with freshman Xavier Murdy banging home his first high school goal in the second half.

Backup goalie Simon Socha and his defense stood tall after the half, holding Meridian scoreless through the game’s final 40 minutes.

“We came back in the second half and had a real good half, beating them for the half,” said CHS coach Kyle Nelson. “Almost a good way to finish out the season.

“Better would have been a win, but a solid half against a very good team is great.”

The playoff loss marked the end of the road for Coupeville’s seniors, as Cole and defenders Teo Keilwitz and Uriah Kastner depart.

The Wolves can return all of their goal scorers from this season, though, as every score was knocked in by an underclassman.

 

Final scoring totals:

Derek Leyva – 14
Aram Leyva – 10
Sage Downes – 4
Chris Cernick – 2
James Wood – 2
Tony Garcia – 1
Xavier Murdy – 1

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After losing Wednesday in Lynden, James Wood and Coupeville soccer face a must-win game Saturday night. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It’s backs to the wall time.

Unable to hold a second-half lead Wednesday, the Coupeville High School boys soccer squad fell 3-2 at Lynden Christian in a district playoff game, and finds itself on the cusp of elimination.

The Wolves, now 6-9 on the season, face Meridian Saturday at Whatcom Community College in a make-or-break game.

The winner of the 7 PM clash finishes 5th at the district tourney and advances to bi-districts, while the loser is done for the season.

Meridian (9-7-2) is a familiar foe, and a higher-ranked one than Coupeville might have expected to play.

The Trojans, who beat the Wolves 4-0 in a non-conference game early in the season, is the #1 seed from the Northwest Conference, but was stunned 3-1 Wednesday by Mount Baker.

Lynden Christian and Baker play for 3rd and 4th place Saturday, while King’s and South Whidbey play for 1st and 2nd.

All four of those teams have clinched a trip to bi-districts.

Coupeville, which opened the playoffs with a forfeit win over Cedar Park Christian, played strongly Wednesday, jumping out to a 1-0 lead at the half thanks to a Derek Leyva score.

The opening goal came just a few minutes into the game, when the Wolf junior slipped a shot from distance through the fingers of the Lyncs goaltender.

Leyva then notched another goal 10 minutes into the second half, taking a through ball from Chris Cernick and doin’ what he does best – make the net sing.

The two-goal night gives Coupeville’s scoring ace 14 goals for the season, and 38 for his two-year career in the red and black.

Up 2-0, the Wolves were rockin’ and rollin’, until the refs got involved and sent the game careening in a different direction.

“Looked like we might just cruise to a nice victory at that point,” said CHS coach Kyle Nelson. “Then, things changed.”

Lynden cracked the seal on the net, scoring twice on corner kicks, before being awarded a questionable penalty kick to win the game.

“Sure looked to me to be a bit of a gift,” Nelson said. “The foul sure looked to occur outside of the penalty box.

“We pressed for our own equalizer, but came up just short.”

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Having won their playoff opener by forfeit Monday, Xavier Murdy and Coupeville soccer are guaranteed at least two more postseason bouts. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Well, that was … unusual.

Just hours before game-time Monday, the Cedar Park Christian boys soccer squad forfeited its playoff game with Coupeville, denying the Wolves a chance to play a postseason game on their home field, but guaranteeing their season goes on at least two more games.

Shortly before their bus was scheduled to leave Bothell, CPC officials contacted Coupeville Athletic Director Willie Smith with the news.

It was the second time Cedar Park forfeited to Coupeville this season, having also done it 10 days ago.

“Not enough players. They must have been hoping to make it, but fell short last moment,” said CHS soccer coach Kyle Nelson.

That tracks with reports from Bothell, where Coupeville softball players saw CPC soccer players on a bus in the parking lot, but the bus never departed.

While CHS was denied its share of the gate, and a chance to raise money with concession sales, the 1-0 win lifts the Wolf booters to 6-8 on the season and sends them to the double-elimination portion of districts.

Coupeville hits the road Wednesday and faces Lynden Christian, which lost 3-0 Monday to South Whidbey. Kickoff is 4:30 PM.

The Lyncs are 6-9-2.

Win in Lynden and the Wolves clinch a trip to bi-districts and play Saturday in the 3rd/4th place game against the winner of Meridian and Mount Baker.

Lose to the Lyncs and CHS gets the loser of Meridian and Mount Baker in the 5th/6th place game, also on Saturday, with just the 5th place team advancing.

South Whidbey and King’s, which beat Meridian 2-0 Monday, play in the district title game Saturday, and both are already qualified for bi-districts.

All Saturday games will be played at Whatcom Community College.

Cedar Park and Sultan, which fell 5-4 Monday to Mount Baker, have been eliminated.

To see the up-to-the-moment playoff bracket, pop over to:

http://www.nscathletics.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=2915&sport=9

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Sophomore Sage Downes has tallied four goals this spring for the CHS soccer team. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Team captain Aram Leyva will lead his squad into its first true home playoff game in many years Monday night.

No need to drive very far this time.

In recent years, when Coupeville High School soccer squads earned home playoff games, they still had to trek 10 miles to Oak Harbor’s stadium, then adjust on the fly to a different playing surface.

But now that the Wolves are back in District 1, the requirement for early-round postseason battles to be played on turf no longer exists.

That means when CHS opens its playoff run Monday, Apr. 29, it will start on the green, green grass of its own Mickey Clark Field.

The opponent is win-less Cedar Park Christian, kickoff is 6 PM, it’s a loser-out game, and yes, you have to pay admission, unlike the regular season.

A breakdown of what you need to know as the district tourney kicks off:

 

What:

1A District 1 boys soccer tournament, featuring the top five North Sound Conference teams against the top three Northwest Conference squads.

 

When:

Apr. 29-May. 4

 

Where:

Multiple locations.

Coupeville opens at home, but a win there sends the Wolves on the road for games at still-to-be-determined locations May 1 and 4.

 

What’s at stake:

Five of eight teams at districts advance to bi-districts, which pits District 1 against District 2.

Three of nine teams at that tourney punch their ticket to state.

 

Admission for individual district playoff games:

Adults and students without ASB — $7.00
Students with ASB, children and seniors — $5.00
Preschool children (with paying adult) – Free

 

Team capsules:

 

Coupeville:

Season record: 5-8

League finish: #3 in 1A North Sound Conference

Goal differential: 31-43

Seniors: (3) – Dewitt Cole, Uriah Kastner, Teo Keilwitz

Record vs. district tourney qualifiers: 3-7 (beat Cedar Park twice; split with Sultan; lost twice to both King’s and South Whidbey; lost once to Meridian and Mount Baker)

Coach: Kyle Nelson

Mascot: Wolves

 

Cedar Park Christian:

Season record: 0-10

League finish: #5 in 1A North Sound Conference

Goal differential: 6-51

Seniors: (2) – Joel Koszonus, Ray Xiang

Record vs. district tourney qualifiers: 0-8 (lost twice to Coupeville, South Whidbey, King’s, and Sultan)

Coach: Ken Kerr

Mascot: Eagles

 

King’s:

Season record: 7-3-1 (*NSC web site credits them with an 8th win, but sorry, you don’t get to count a win against your own alumni…)

League finish: #2 in 1A North Sound Conference

Goal differential: 36-8

Seniors: (2) – Gunnar Morehead, Jeffrey Weber

Record vs. district tourney qualifiers: 6-2 (beat Sultan, Coupeville and CPC twice, lost twice to South Whidbey)

Coach: Matt Sporn

Mascot: Knights

 

Lynden Christian:

Season record: 6-8-2

League finish: #2 of 1A teams in 1A/2A/3A Northwest Conference

Goal differential: 21-31

Seniors: (6) – Jalen Apol, Blake De Ruyter, Cory Ellens, Trent Greenough, Jakob Luce, Nolan Thomas

Record vs. district tourney qualifiers: 1-1 (beat Meridian, lost to Mount Baker)

Coach:Brent De Ruyter

Mascot: Lyncs

 

Meridian:

Season record: 9-5-2

League finish: #1 of 1A teams in 1A/2A/3A Northwest Conference

Goal differential: 46-25

Seniors: (9) – Tanner Bouwman, Manraj Gaday, Savikar Gaday, Gabe Hughes, Ernan Martinez, Nathan Miranda, Carlos Padila-Solis, Chris Prado, Nicholas Vyvyan

Record vs. district tourney qualifiers: 3-1 (beat Mount Baker, Coupeville, and Sultan, lost to Lynden Christian)

Coach: Joe Spencer

Mascot: Trojans

 

Mount Baker:

Season record: 8-6-1

League finish: #3 of 1A teams in 1A/2A/3A Northwest Conference

Goal differential: 40-34

Seniors: (8) – Gage Corcoran, Freddy Delgado, Ian Green, JJ Kalsbeek, Kailani Lauderdale, Clover Martin, Trey O’Dell, James Rice

Record vs. district tourney qualifiers: 2-1 (beat Lynden Christian and Coupeville, lost to Meridian)

Coach: Jason Jorgensen

Mascot: Mountaineers

 

South Whidbey:

Season record: 12-1

League finish: #1 in 1A North Sound Conference

Goal differential: 74-8

Seniors: (6) – Graham Colar, Nevin Daniels, Julian Inches, Michael Lux, Eli Waldron, Cormac Workman

Record vs. district tourney qualifiers: 8-0 (beat King’s Sultan, Coupeville, and CPC twice)

Coach: Emerson Robbins

Mascot: Falcons

 

Sultan:

Season record: 4-10

League finish: #4 in 1A North Sound Conference

Goal differential: 24-62

Seniors: (4) – Francisco Alvarado-Medina, Blake Bernethy, Gabriel DeBock, Miguel Garcia

Record vs. district tourney qualifiers: 3-6 (beat CPC twice, split with Coupeville, lost twice to King’s and South Whidbey, lost once to Meridian)

Coach: Ryan Schaeffer

Mascot: Turks

 

Bracket:

http://www.nscathletics.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=2915&sport=9

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