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Vashon Raptors win U12 boys’ soccer championship title
The Vashon boys U12 Raptors soccer team won the Tacoma Pierce County Junior Soccer Association (TPCJSA) championship on Sunday, Dec. 20, defeating the Gig Harbor Whitecaps in a penalty kick shootout after a 1-1 tie at the end of two overtime periods.
The game was a hard-fought battle, with several excellent saves by goalie Gerardo Pereyda — and the Gig Harbor goalie as well.
The end of regulation play showed a tie at 0-0, despite some incredible offense by both teams. The teams then went to two 10-minute overtime periods, with the Whitecaps scoring at the six-minute mark of the first overtime period.
The Raptors were momentarily stunned, as they had only been scored upon a total of five times in the regular season, and only trailed in a game once the entire season.
But the Raptor offense went to work, and started peppering the Whitecap goal during the second overtime period, with shot after shot on goal in the final five minutes.
With only 60 seconds remaining in the game, the Whitecaps had a big clear out of the backfield, and it looked like the game might be over, but Bernard Cohen collected the defensive clear from the midfield, controlled the ball and moved it upfield.
Just as a defender got to him, he deftly passed the ball forward to striker Bohdin Mozeleski, who battled two defenders for the ball. Mozeleski miraculously beat both defenders, and in a lunging reach, lagged the ball across the field to oncoming wing forward Anthony Gateman.
Gateman, who had been double-teamed most of the game, was wide open on the play, and tagged a beautiful finish to the lower left-hand net from the 18-yard line to tie the game with only 15 seconds on the clock. That threw that game into a shootout, with five players from each team selected to take kicks from the mark, in a one-on-one with the opposing team’s goalie.
Gig Harbor shot first, and goalie Gerardo Pereyda made yet another spectacular save for the season. Then the Whitecap goalie was able to block the first Raptor penalty kick, so it went to round two.
Gig Harbor missed again, and Gerardo Pereyda then shot second for Vashon, and nailed his penalty kick. Gig Harbor missed on their third try, and Anthony Gateman made his shootout kick.
When Gig Harbor missed their fourth kick, the game was over, and Vashon was victorious.
Coach Mark Scheer had special praise for the Raptor defense.
“They have been the key to our season success, and to winning the Gold Division league title prior to the championship tournament,” Scheer said. “The anchors on the defense are Forrest Miller, Zach Adler-Raff and Charlie McBride. They are a deceivingly small group of guys, but they are tenacious, and they simply don’t let people get by them, much less score.”
Assisting the defense in the backfield was Joshua Davis, Preston Scheer and Wyatt Heitt — “not to mention some of the best goalie play in the entire league,” he added.
The Vashon Raptors went 11-1-1 on the season, and scored 25 goals with only six goals scored against them the entire season. Their only loss for the season came against the Gig Harbor Whitecaps in the first game of the season, when they lost 1-0.
They avenged that loss in their last regular season game, when they beat the Whitecaps 1-0, with a blistering goal by Anthony Gateman in the 57th minute.
They learned to mark Gateman closely, but not close enough as he became their nemesis once again, scoring the tie goal in overtime play, and the final capper kick at the end of the game.
Scheer said it was a “fairy tale” season, with lots of learning and maturing throughout.
“This cohort of boys on the Island has a very bright future in the sport of soccer; they are showing wisdom and maturity beyond their years,” he said. “It’s a very cohesive and supportive bunch, and if they can continue to play together, there is really no limit to how far they might go.”
As the best U12 boys team in the TPCJSA League, the Raptors will travel to Tacoma for an awards ceremony and to receive their trophy on Jan. 26.
TPCJSA also announced that they will pay for the Raptors’ admission fee to next year’s President’s Cup or Commissioner’s Cup as a reward for their champion win.
The Raptors are coached by Mark Scheer and Greg Martin and managed by Andy Davis.