McNair slips past Whitney in soccer playoffs
An offside penalty called in the second half stripped Whitney High’s varsity soccer team of an offensive opportunity to tie the score against McNair High School in the quarterfinals of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division II Playoffs.
Senior defender Zack Provan appeared to score on a set piece but a sideline referee called a player off sides at the last second to abruptly conclude the game 2-1 in the Eagle’s favor.
“We needed the simplest of calls to go our way in order to see ourselves go through to the semifinals,” said Whitney head coach Byron Salata. Salata said with the right calls at the right time, the Wildcats could be fighting for a section title.
It would have been Provan’s second score netting Whitney’s goal at the end of the first half to answer another controversial call. Salata said the boys kept their heads up.
“We came out too flat in the early minutes and they scored in the 6-yard box after a scrappy failed clearance,” said Salata. Salata said McNair’s second goal was one of the worst calls he had seen in his cumulative years on the field.
McNair was awarded a free kick, which gave them the margin of victory.
Salata said McNair’s coach apologized to him as to the call. The loss knocked Whitney out of the semifinals.
The Wildcats did make school history for the boys soccer program. In 2009, Whitney made the Division IV playoffs but lost in the first round.
“I picked up a group of hungry players who came into this season with a team goal to make a run at playoffs. Not only were we bumped up a division, but we were the last man standing,” said Salata. Salata was thankful for the coaching opportunity and support of Whitney’s new athletic director Jason Feaurbach. Salata said it gave him a chance to give back to the community through the program.
Whitney placed junior defender Zachary Monroe, senior defender Soren Smith, senior goalkeeper Nick Shnable, senior forward Zachary Watkins, and Pierre Balda-Schuiling a spot on the 2012 Capital Athletic League All League team.
Salata said seniors Kyle Branderhorst and Aaron Roudebush also had outstanding seasons.
In the first round of the playoffs, Whitney defeated Ponderosa 3-1. Watkins scored off of Balda-Schuiling’s assist while junior Joseph Silas poked the winning goal past Ponderosa’s goalie minutes after Watkin’s goal. Schnable made some “huge saves” in the goalbox, too.
The Wildcats also celebrate bringing home the first trophy for Whitney’s boys soccer having placed third in Inderkum High School’s invitational preseason tournament.
Whitney finished second in league at 6-2-2 holding a 10-7-2 overall season record.
“Day one I told them to play for the name on the front, not the number on the back,” said Salata, “The Wildcats are here to stay. We look forward to making another run at things next year.”