Vikings soccer is second in state

The 2022 Orcas Vikings’ soccer season came to a close on Saturday after making it to the state championships, where they finished second place. The Friday Harbor Wolverines came in first.

The first game of the weekend was against league rivals, Mount Vernon Christian. The Hurricanes were coming off a 2-1 upset of second-ranked Upper Columbia Academy while the Vikings won against number 6 Evergreen Lutheran 6-1.

The match was the first of the day, which meant unfortunate circumstances for both teams as half the field had frozen due to the chilled temperature and would much resemble playing soccer on an ice rink. The two previous meetings had been nailbiters with the Vikings winning 1-0 and 1-1 in penalty kicks. The Hurricanes made some noise early but soon enough the Orcas defense was set in and would be an arduous task for any team to overcome. However, you can easily say the same thing about the Hurricanes, and it would be just as true. The Vikings would end up being the aggressors for most of the match as they controlled the pace of play and possession of the ball but couldn’t find a way through. They finally got their breakthrough with just single-digit minutes remaining in the first half as Kevin Ibarra-Garcia drew a foul in the penalty box and earned a penalty kick for the Vikings. The man to take would be one Tommy Anderson-Cleveland, and the senior captain delivered to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead that would lead them into the state championship game.

An icon matchup unlike any other would finally have found its way to the state championship. The Friday Harbor Wolverines had taken the St. George’s Dragons to penalty kicks where they held on to their top ranking in the state. The teams had met three times that season with the Wolverines winning once in overtime, the Vikings once in regulation, and the Wolverines winning the district championship in penalties. Both teams had fought all season for this moment, and with the kickoff, they would play for it all, the Wolverines pushed up early but the Viking defenders held tight and refused to concede.

The Vikings would manage a couple of close calls on the other end but nothing changed on the scoreboard going into the half. Coming out of the half was a different story with Friday Harbor taking just minutes to head one in for the lead. With Orcas already in disarray, it wasn’t long before 1 became 2 and the Vikings had dug themselves a pretty deep hole. Even with the score the game was far from over and the Vikings began to push much harder than they had done all game, it was working, chances were being generated, and there were even some opportunities to get to the penalty spot that was ignored by officials. Eventually, Ethan Moss would be the one to break through as chaos in the box was ended as Ibarra-Garcia got it to Moss for a final touch. With 2-1 down there was life again for the blue and white and opportunities mounted up. The Vikings’ best chance wound up stopped by not a defender but a whistle as no advantage was given after a handball that had Diego Lago through to a 1v1 with the keeper. It wound up a free kick and nothing would come from it.

As the Vikings pressed high the Wolverines had counter-attack chances many of which were stopped with clean defending, but one seemed to be gone until senior Celia Groeninger gave her last seconds on the pitch to save her team, taking out a Wolverine from behind in a heady soccer play that would see a red card shown to her and she would be forced to leave the field early. The rest of her teammates would follow suit minutes later with 2-1 being the final score and Orcas being left with the second-place trophy.

Seniors Lago, Anderson-Cleveland, Paxton White, Pedro Guerra, Groeninger and Nicholas Rivera played their final minutes as part of this golden generation of soccer. Decorated like no other group before them they will be missed but not forgotten by those who look to fill their shoes in the future.

Don’t expect this to be the last time you hear about the state tournament in soccer or the rest of the season. The Vikings will return six starters from this team with replacement players already prepared to take the field. Compared with Friday Harbor’s 14 seniors the Vikings will be in a primed position to return the state trophy to Eastsound.