by Jefferson Freeman
Orcas Island High School senior
The Vikings’ soccer team will compete in the state semi-finals on Friday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. at Federal Way Memorial Stadium against the Providence Highlanders and then again on Saturday for the 1B/2B State Championships.
After getting the fifth seed in the state tournament the Vikings made the trip down to Tacoma and Franklin Pierce High School for a loser-out game last week. The Vikings were the visitors as the fifth seed while the Evergreen Eagles played the role of hosts as the state’s fourth seed.
The Eagles were coming off a big win over Mount Vernon Christian and a second-place finish at the district tournament. While Orcas had defeated Summit Atlas by a score of 2-1. The last time these two teams had met it was a lopsided Viking victory in this same round of the tournament. The Vikings had won that meeting 6-1, but most of the goal scorers from that win wouldn’t be on the field.
Orcas started with the ball and immediately got to attacking. The Eagles played a high defensive line meaning that the Vikings were very successful playing through balls, but also got caught offsides on numerous occasions. After Orcas couldn’t quite find a goal on several great chances in the early minutes, the Eagles seemed to get their legs under them and started to play offense. They counter-attacked well and improved midfield since these teams last met. It was back-and-forth attacking for about 20 minutes with a slight Viking advantage but the deadlock would be broken by Evergreen as a ball was misplayed in the back and the attempted clearance was right to an Eagle mid who floated the ball top corner with a clinical hit putting them up 1-0.
Despite the score the Vikings were looking like the better team on the pitch, they just needed a goal to prove it. It finally came on a great piece of team play as Kevin Ibarra hit a rocket pass to Ethan Moss who in one touch flicked it past the defenders to Jefferson Freeman running through. Freeman got to the ball a split second before the Evergreen keeper and instead of taking a traditional shot used his knee to bounce it over the keeper’s head. All anyone could do was watch, waiting to see if the ball would end up in the net or over the bar. And it went in.
All the momentum cumulated in that goal. The Vikings had a goal to show for their effort and momentum. As the game wore on it got more and more physical, a style that seemed to favor a more veteran Viking team. Physical play was being allowed and each team had an opportunity for a penalty to be called but play continued. Finally there was a play that the ref could not avoid as Joe Stephens got almost tackled by the Eagle keeper to give the Vikings a huge penalty kick. A kick that would sail just over the bar to keep the game at 1-1. With time running out on the game, it seemed that the Vikings were destined for extra time again. But there was one more twist in the story.
Despite his penalty miss, Ethan Moss had a good case for man of the match. The Viking midfielder was winning duels and progressing possession for every minute of that game. Moss had the assist on Freeman’s equalizer, and with the clock running out on stoppage time, he found one more. Moss made a run down to the corner flag and passed it through the legs of his defender to Joe Stephens sitting at the near post. Stephens received the pass with a spin around his marker, coming out with nothing in front of him except the keeper. Stephens wouldn’t miss his opportunity, slotting in the bottom corner, to give the Vikings a stunning 2-1 lead. The final minutes would roll off the clock as the Vikings advanced to the state semi-finals.
In a wild day of results, the 7th seed Riverside Christian beat the defending champions Friday Harbor, 8th seed Providence Highlanders knocked off the state top seed in Auburn Adventist and Upper Columbia won their rematch of last year’s quarter-final with MVC.
The Vikings are preparing for their Friday game. The Highlanders won the matchup in the regular season on an OT winner. The last time these two met in the playoffs was a 1-1 draw that would be decided in penalty kicks. I’m sure you remember those penalty kicks, as they gave the Vikings their second state championship in school history, and the program’s first ever. They are two games away from another, a win over Providence, and they will play the winner of Riverside vs. Upper Columbia for a state title.