Vikings sports in post-season play

by Cienna Richardson

Orcas High School

The Orcas volleyball has advanced to state, and the team will play in Yakima’s Sundome Nov. 8-9.

The Vikings played the district semi-finals against Mount Vernon Christian and finals against Fellowship Christian on Oct. 28. They beat Mount Vernon Christian 3-2 and swept Fellowship 3-0.

“One thing our team did well was recovering quickly from an error or lost point, we were able to control the pace of the game and play confidently without allowing mistakes to largely impact the flow of the game,” said senior starter, Bethany Carter.

The Vikings advanced to tri-districts and played Quilcene on Oct. 31.

“I felt calm and ready to play,” said junior starter Ava Ashcraft. The game started with the Vikings down three hits but as the game progressed they gained momentum and swept Quilcene in three.

“We never go into a game underestimating the team we’re about to play, even if we have beat them before, anything could change and yes we knew we were better but still gotta fight for the win,” said sophomore starter Sofia Mahony-Jauregui.

After a 3-0 victory over Darrington on Nov. 2, the Vikings played Neah Bay.

“Before each game, I like to mentally set aside everything that does not relate to volleyball, so that I can focus on the moment. Then I will set one or two goals for myself like making my serves or communicating well in the back to,” said Carter. The game began with Neah Bay winning the first set. Both teams played a close second and third set with Neah Bay winning 25-18 and 25-19.

“The last game was a tough game but we held our own. Neah Bay is a really cohesive team that plays well together. We just made more errors on our side. Even though we lost we still had a lot of fun playing and should be proud of ourselves,” said Ashcraft.

Added Carter: “I’m always excited before each game. I love playing volleyball, and I have so much belief in what our team can do that I always think we can win against whatever opponent we face. Some games get a little more intense, like when we are playing a great team like Neah Bay. Which can add an element of nerves before the game.”

by Jefferson Freeman

Orcas High School student

Despite the ups and downs that this season has provided, the Orcas Island Vikings soccer team is exactly where they want to be. When Sunday’s state tournament bracket was revealed the Vikings were given the fifth seed, meaning they will face Evergreen Lutheran in the first round of the state playoffs. That game is still to be scheduled for either Friday or Saturday near Tacoma.

When the regular season ended there was a three-way tie for the automatic qualification spot in the state tournament. Orcas, Mount Vernon Christian and Providence all went 6-2 in league play, with Orcas beating MVC, MVC beating Providence in penalties and Providence beating Orcas in extra time.

Because of this tie, the teams would meet in Oak Harbor for a tiebreaker series. MVC and Providence would play the first of potentially three 40-minute games. It would be a solo goal at the end of the first half that gave the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead that turned into a 1-0 final. The next game was the Vikings vs. Hurricanes. The Vikings dominated the entire game, leaving MVC with no shots on target while Orcas had their fair share of opportunities, but all either hit the keeper or missed the goal.

In the final minutes of the game, Joaquin Shanks-Morales seemed to be through to goal but was taken out by a defender, only for the ref to choke on his whistle and allow MVC to waste the clock away. After 40 minutes of scoreless soccer, it was time for penalty kicks. Orcas got the first shot and buried it, and the Hurricanes responded in turn. It went on like this, save the third shot from each team, for the first 9 shooters on both sides. Both 10th men missed their penalties, and in the 11th and final round, we saw the first difference. The Vikings penalty was saved, and the Hurricanes hit the back of the net.

Because of the tournament format, the Vikings got the fourth seed in the bi-district round. That would mean an unknown commodity in Summit Atlas. The independent program had lost just one match all season and was at home. Things looked grave for the Vikings as they went on the road. But after an early handball on the edge of the box, Kevin Ibarra-Garcia would bury a free kick out of range for the Summit Atlas keeper to reach.

With immediate momentum, the Vikings used their midfield dominance to hold a very talented Summit team looking lost. Sam Sutton and Ethan Moss held Summit’s leading scorer to a shell of himself while Joaquin Shanks-Morales led the game in progressive plays. The Orcas of Summit Atlas would eventually regain momentum and when the half-time whistle sounded it was to the benefit of the Vikings. The 1-0 lead wouldn’t last too long as a missed pass led to a long shot from the Orcas that had just enough movement to slip past Tim Malo’s hands and equalize the score.

Despite the score, the Vikings defense lost no momentum. Isaac Moss and Kashi Campbell both played some of the best soccer of their careers, winning almost every ball near the box. Malo wouldn’t let a previous mistake slow him down, and between the end of regulation and the start of overtime made multiple plays to save the Vikings season. When the final whistle blew, the score was 1-1.

The Vikings hadn’t won a game past regulation on the season and now needed a first if they wanted to keep playing. About 5 minutes in, the Vikings forced a series of throw-ins near the Summit goal, one of which Ethan Moss would play through to Demetrio Salinas-Cruz.

Salinas-Cruz had started the game at right-back but was moved to striker to try and give the Vikings a spark. Which he did. Running onto Moss’ through-ball he hit a cross from the end line, a cross that no Summit defender could stop. He found Jefferson Freeman on a far post run with nothing but an open net in front of him. All it took was a deflection to the corner of the goal and the Vikings were going to state.

After the impressive win, the Vikings were seeded at #5, ahead of both MVC and Providence who had finished ahead of them in league standings. Auburn Adventist won the district championship after upsetting Friday Harbor and then beating league rivals Evergreen handily in the championship. MVC fell to that same Evergreen team in the first round of the district tournament. Auburn got the top seed at the state tournament and will face Providence, while Friday Harbor hosts Riverside Christian. Upper Columbia Academy is the top seed from the east side and will host Mount Vernon Christian while the Vikings will head to Evergreen Lutheran.

The last time the two sides met it was a 6-1 Viking victory in Sedro-Wooley, but these are two very different teams. The Eagles played Summit Atlas twice this season losing the first matchup 7-4, and winning the second 4-1.

Other Viking sports news

Cross-country’s Tom Malo and Finn Ortjes competed at State at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco, Washington over the weekend. Ortjes finished 128th and Malo 137th out of 163.

Winter season tip-off: everyone welcome

Mark your calendars for the 2023-24 Hoops Tip-Off on Sunday, Nov. 12 a 5 p.m. New this year, Orcas Boosters invite the community to join the 23-24 winter sports season kick-off in the high school gym! Players will participate in fun games and shooting drills for individual and team prizes. Light concessions will be offered for fans and Booster gear will be 10 percent off so everyone can get their Bblue ready. So bring the family, friends, and neighbors as the evenings are dark. Free admission and everyone welcome.

Corey Wiscomb photo.
Ava Ashcraft comes down for the kill.

Corey Wiscomb photo. Ava Ashcraft comes down for the kill.

Alyson Stephens photo.
Some of the Vikings’ soccer team celebrating.

Alyson Stephens photo. Some of the Vikings’ soccer team celebrating.

Alyson Stephens photo.

Alyson Stephens photo.

Alyson Stephens photo.

Alyson Stephens photo.

Chris Sutton photo.

Chris Sutton photo.