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Soccer fights to win a tough match for second place in league
Looking to avenge an early season home loss, the Pirate girls soccer team traveled to Orting on Thursday to take on the Cardinals.
Following last Tuesday’s 5-0 win over Life Christian, Thursday’s match was a crucial game that would determine second place in the Nisqually League.
Vashon put together what could be the goal of the year just two minutes into the game. Six combined passes emanating from the Vashon defensive third eventually made it to the left wing. Junior Lena DeGuzman crossed a perfectly weighted ball to the sprinting senior Olivia Andrus, who one-touched an inside-of-the-foot shot past the Orting goalie for an early 1-0 lead.
This was a precursor to the entire first half, as Vashon dominated possession. Senior Denise Griffith and sophomore Llira McEachern took control of the midfield, looking almost telepathic at times, working the ball from one side of the field to the other. They were moving well to open spaces, being patient with their decisions and playing with style.
Orting, on the other hand used quick counter attacks and long through passes to create dangerous opportunities. With only 50 seconds to play in the first half, one of those through balls made it to the Orting striker, but a quick reaction from Vashon senior goalie Courtney Gateman scuttled the shot, and the ball deflected off of Orting for a goal kick to preserve the 1-0 halftime lead.
After the halftime break, the pressure mounted immediately on the Pirates as Orting was relentless in keeping the ball in the Vashon half of the field.
At the 42nd minute, a sliding save by Gatemen brought out cheers from the Vashon faithful. A minute later, Pirate striker Cat Amick hustled into the corner, collected the ball and sliced an angled pass to DeGuzman for a left-footed shot from 20 yards that just missed its mark.
It was back-and-forth, end-to-end action until the 51st minute, when an Orting midfielder powered in the equalizer on a free kick from 25 yards out.
Buoyed by their success, the Cardinals kept up their pace, with the Pirates starting to look tired. Six minutes later, an Orting striker nailed a shot into the Pirates’ net. It was gut check time as the Pirates had 23 minutes remaining to make their claim to second place in the league and a much improved position for the playoffs.
It was only a minute from the Orting goal when Vashon freshman Madison Chapman deftly touched the ball to Amick, who, noticing she had drawn the two remaining Orting defenders to her, pushed out a pass to DeGuzman on the left wing and with a soft touch set up one of her patented left-footed rockets into the back of the old onion bag to tie the game at 2-2.
Following that shot by only two minutes, Amick floated in a long shot from 35 yards out. Low and behold, the Orting goalie fumbled the ball, it trickled over the line and the Pirates found themselves up 3-2.
In the 65th minute, a Pirate defensive gem was required to stymie the Cardinal attack. A perfectly paced through pass was pushed ahead of the goal scorer. Pirate freshman defender Mykah Shiosaki was sprinting next to her with senior Alex Wall also hurrying to help. The Orting striker managed the shoulder charge from Shiosaki and then somehow cleared though Wall to set up a right-footed shot from only 10 yards out. But the game would not be tied thanks to a recovering Shiosaki sliding back in front to clear the ball out to Pirate fullback Harper Howard.
Fifteen minutes were left, and the Island fans were nervous, hoping for an insurance goal. They got their wish in the 71st minute when DeGuzman banked in a cross towards Andrus, which deflected off an Orting defender right to a waiting Amick, who half-volleyed it to the back of the net to guarantee a well-earned victory and second place in the league going into playoffs.
— Don Amick is the father of a Vashon soccer player and a former youth soccer coach.