Vikings bring home soccer state championship

by Jefferson Freeman

Orcas High School student

The 2021 boys’ soccer season came to a close on Saturday, Nov. 20 in Sumner and with it, the Vikings brought home the hardware.

After winning the district title and defeating Puget Sound Adventist in the first round of the playoffs, the Vikings traveled to Sumner to play for the state title. Their first matchup of the weekend was against league rival Friday Harbor. Meeting for their third time this season and having split their regular-season series both teams knew they were in for a dogfight and that’s exactly what they got.

An 8:30 p.m. kick-off meant temperatures dipping into the thirties by the time the game was underway but the Vikings didn’t seem fazed one bit. Early in the first half the brother connection of William Ibarra and Kevin Garcia found the net to give the Vikings crucial control and a 1-0 lead. When two talented sides meet on this stage there is usually a lot of very good defending and that seemed like it was going to be the rest of the first half until William Ibarra hit another beautiful cross which slipped through the hands of the Friday Harbor keeper and found Remy Lago waiting to smash it home for a two to nothing lead. In the playoffs no lead is safe and that was the mentality coming out of the half. The Viking defense however had no plans of letting Friday Harbor into the game and continued to shut them down for the remainder of the half. The Vikings attack wasn’t able to find anything else and 2-0 would be the final score that would send the Orcas Island Vikings to their first state championship since 2017.

Providence Classical Christian Highlanders vs The Orcas Island Vikings. They battled for the league title. They battled it out for the district. The Vikings took that one. And in poetic fashion, they were the two teams left standing after the dust settled in Sumner. After facing each other for 250 minutes and a penalty shootout, both teams’ seasons would come down to the next 80. Unfortunately for the Vikings, it appeared early like it was going to be a long 80 minutes after a Providence throw-in found a clearing in front of the goal and was headed in to give the Highlanders a 1-0 lead.

The Vikings were trailing for the first time since October and needed to fight back now more than ever. Providence had a plan coming into the game and were sticking with it. It’s hard to lose a game if your opponents can’t score and the Vikings were experiencing this tactic first hand. Providence had one of the strongest defenses and keepers in the league who had conceded just 3 goals in three meetings with the Vikings. Halftime came and went and it remained 1-0. Orcas were approaching desperation mode and everyone in the stadium could feel it. The Vikings kept pushing but couldn’t quite crack the code that was the Providence defensive line.

Just as the Vikings appeared to be finding rhythm freshman striker and Friday goal scorer Kevin Garcia was given a yellow card and forced to leave the match. Now our movie had reached its final battle, its desperation moment where a hero saves the day. That hero would be Tommy Anderson-Cleveland. The Vikings passing game found Kevin Garcia now back in the game open to hit a long ball to senior Cadence Kraayeveld down the wing Kraayeveld took no time controlling the ball sending a one-touch cross to the soaring Anderson-Cleveland who tipped it away from the keeper and into the net to even the score. Momentum had switched in the blink of an eye and for the first time in a long time, it felt like the Vikings were in control. Momentum doesn’t necessarily equal goals though and 1-1 after 80 minutes would mean overtime. A short overtime meant few opportunities and none were capitalized upon leaving the state crown to penalty shootout.

Here we were yet again. Providence vs. Orcas in a penalty shootout. This time the whole state was on the line and the margin for error was non-existent. Providence won the toss and elected to take the all-important first shot. In what would be one of the most important moments of the match Viking goalkeeper Paxton White made an uncustomary guess on his dive (which he claims was more a prediction) and made an incredible save to keep Providence off the board. The Vikings first shooter was goal scorer Tommy Anderson-Cleveland and left no doubt on his penalty smashing it passed the keeper to give Orcas the lead. Providence needed a goal on their next shot put that is not what they got. The shot missed the goal to the left giving the Vikings control.

William Ibarra stepped up next and with his final moments in a Viking jersey made it 2-0 with a cool and collected penalty. The Highlanders weren’t dead just yet and converted their third penalty but Diego Lago did the same to keep the Viking advantage at two. The fight was on at this point and Providence caught their biggest break of the game converting their penalty while Orcas failed to do so. The Highlanders fifth shot also found the net and all of a sudden it was 3-3. The fifth and final shooter that night would be Pedro Guerro. He already had a game-winning penalty that season against Crosspoint and proved again he was the man for the job.

The ball was in the net. The fans were going insane. Guerro’s jersey was in his hand, and his teammates were mobbing him. The game was over, so was the season, and for the first time in the team’s history, they were state champions. After celebrating with their sea of loyal supporters made up of friends and family the team was presented with a trophy. And it was the biggest one available. Each player shared an emotional moment with the trophy and spent more time with the fans. The team took a moment to sing their theme song of the season which was Pepas by Farruko before hopping on the bus to head home.

They wouldn’t arrive on the island until Sunday morning where they were greeted in Eastsound by yet another mob of fans for a parade that ended at the school. The trophy was put in its new home, where it can be seen and celebrated for years to come.