by Jefferson Freeman
Orcas High School senior
The Orcas cross country team traveled to Mt. Vernon Christian School for the League Championship Meet on Oct. 19. Seniors Quinn Fleming, August Moore, Will Stephens and Theo Vaccarella were honored with a ceremony before the race, along with the senior runners from all of the competing teams (senior Lael Watson was absent due to injury). The fairly flat course, along the field and trails behind the school, made for a fast race. August Moore placed 5th in the girls’ race, and junior Finn Ontjes led the Orcas boys with a 10th place finish.
The regular season is coming to a close for the Orcas Vikings soccer team, which has had its share of ups and downs.
After a disappointing loss against Friday Harbor, the Vikings got their opportunity to bounce back when they traveled to take on the La Conner Braves. The Braves have a history of slowing the Vikings down, sitting back and playing defense has kept them in impressively close games over recent years. The Braves again came out defensive but pushed forward more than they had in recent years. The Vikings were also mixing up some tactics. A back-and-forth game early was eventually broken open when La Conner committed a foul about halfway between the center line and their own goal.
Captain Sam Sutton took the kick and played it high into a crowded box. Despite the crows Joaquin Shanks-Morales made his run in front of everyone. Despite getting passed the ball, Morales was able to maneuver into almost a scorpion kick, hitting the ball up into the air, and over the head of the Braves keeper. With a 1-0 lead the Vikings had some momentum. Joe Stephens would get a break and fire a shot that was just deflected by the keeper to a waiting Jefferson Freeman who didn’t let the opportunity go to waste for his first goal of the season.
With the Vikings up by two goals the Braves needed an answer and they found one. A series of corner kicks, and by series I mean four in a row, ended with a La Conner header into the back of the net to cut the lead in half. Scoring wasn’t done in the first half, as the Vikings had one more in them. Kevin Ibarra-Garcia broke through the Braves line, and got the keeper out of the goal. Instead of taking a shot on the closing angle, Ibarra chipped it up over the keeper and into the wide-open goal.
With a 3-1 Vikings lead at the break, things were looking good, but no one would say great. The
Vikings needed to focus on protecting their lead. They did a good job, holding down on defense and preventing La Conner from creating any opportunity. Joaquin Shanks-Morales would get an opportunity of his own, hitting a rocket from outside of the box into the La Conner goal to make it a definitive 4-1 lead. All would remain level until the final play of the game, where La Conner won a corner. Every Braves player including the keeper went up for the ball, and the goalie got the final touch making it 4-2 before the final whistle.
After a good win on the road, the Vikings were at home on Oct. 14. It was Homecoming and the Providence Highlanders were in town for a game with big playoff implications. Playing without three key pieces the Vikings were again mixing up formations and player combos. But despite that they would grab a lead just minutes in when Sam Sutton hung another free kick into the box, Jefferson Freeman and the Providence keeper arrived at the ball in the same moment, and after a deflection, Freeman would get the crucial last touch to get the Vikings the lead.
The Vikings goal was safe, and they had a handful of opportunities that were missed by just feet. Things looked good at the half and the Vikings were in control. The second half looked very similar but with one major difference. A misplayed pass on the back line led to an attacking opportunity for the Highlanders. Avoiding defenders they got a shot off, hitting the crossbar and deflecting down into the goal. With the game, even the Vikings needed to pick it back up. They then proceeded to lose another starter forcing a formation change, but that wouldn’t change the offense. Another pile of opportunities would find a way to avoid going in and it was time for OT. Despite the Vikings looking like the better team all day it took one quick break, to leave the Vikings stranded in a 1-on-3. Isaac Moss did his best to prevent the first two opportunities but it was too many for just one player as Providence stunned the Vikings.
After a 9-0 domination over Cedar Park on Saturday, Oct. 21 the Vikings need to keep that form going if they want to play in the state playoffs this season. The Vikings started off looking dominant against Cedar Park but missed a handful of chances before Joe Stephens finally knocked one in about 15 minutes into the game.
The Vikings would bring on substitutes after the goal in Remy Lago and Jefferson Freeman. Both subs would make an immediate impact, scoring two goals each to give the Vikings a 5-0 lead. In the second half the Vikings had the game locked-up. Lauro Quintero scored in his return from injury, Max Dickey-Volmer recorded his first career goal, and the first for any Viking freshman this season. The eighth and final goal would come from Kevin Ibarra, hitting a knuckle ball from midfield to cap off the Vikings offensive surge.
The team now has just two games left on the schedule. The Vikings are poised to make a state tournament run.
The two games left are the Vikings senior game on Tuesday, Oct. 24 against Coupeville, a game with playoff implications, and then they finish the season on the road at Grace Academy. With the Lopez Lobos sitting only one game back, the Vikings need to win out to clinch a place in the district tournament.