By BOBBE NEEDHAM
“This is the first game that counts, and I think we’re going to win,” Wolverine forward Audrey Olshefsky predicted before Tuesday’s game against the Concrete Lions, the team’s first league game of the season.
Sophomore forward Rebecca Leff agreed. “This game we’ll have it covered, based on our good playing against Lynden Christian.” (Lynden Christian won 5-4 on Sept. 15.) “Christian’s not in our league — way above us.”
Both players were right. Friday Harbor defeated Concrete 9-0 at home Tuesday.
The Wolverines’ aggressive offense and skillful passing kept Concrete’s defense scrambling for 95 percent of a game that longtime fan Dave Nash (stopper Larissa Nash’s dad) called “more of a team effort” than last year.
“This year the girls are a really cohesive team,” Nash said. “Lots of the sophomores have played together for years.” The team includes seven promising varsity newcomers in their sophomore year.
The Wolverines’ first two goals, both scored by seasoned player Emma Ytander, came in the first 10 minutes of a hard-played first half that set the scene for what could have been an even worse drubbing. Concrete had to field all but two of its players throughout.
This year’s stronger defense thwarted all but a few offensive moves by the Lions, with some crowd-pleasing turnarounds by junior Maggie Anderson. Alert Wolverine goalie senior Hannah Snow didn’t have much to do. “Coach told us to concentrate on making good shots in this game,” forward Elle Guard said. “That happened more in the first half.”
Guard made the third goal of the half with a neat assist from sophomore Meli Hickenbottom. Ytander’s third unassisted goal brought the score to 4-0 at halftime.
An exchange student from Sweden, Ytander “used to play with the boys and plays year-round at home,” Don Leff said. His family is hosting Ytander this year.
“In the second half, we just stopped shooting,” Coach Mark Fishaut said after the game. “We didn’t want to humiliate the Concrete team.” Guard saw the team “more concentrated on passing and working our game” in that half, but the Wolverines racked up five more goals by game’s end.
Guard and Ytander each scored another goal, with junior Clara Brand and senior Lola Elford each putting a point on the scoreboard. Anderson kicked the ninth goal, the first of her varsity career. “I got moved from backfield to stopper and I was excited,” she said. “I thought, I better take this opportunity.”
After the game, Rebecca Leff thought the team had come “together in the second half.” Guard added, “It was good to get everyone to play. The girls who don’t play as much got to play today.”
“Usually when we play Concrete, we make 300 goal shots and get three goals,” said Fishaut, a pediatrician. “The team was much more disciplined this year.”
Uneven matchups are common, given the limited number of teams in the area. “We play schools who are much better than we are,” Fishaut said. “Nobody wants to take a ferry just to get badly beat.”
Next: The Wolverines (1-2) travel to North Sound Christian on Thursday. Game time is 4 p.m.