The Vashon Vultures completed their season undefeated in conference with a resounding repeat win over North Kitsap. The Vultures came out and established early that they had no intent of letting the low hanging fruit of a conference sweep slip away. In their prior meeting, Kitsap had scored two early goals to take a lead, but the Vultures were having none of that.
The high point was late in game when goalie and senior Captain Duncan McMillan got some field playing time and scored first goal of his high school career. Solid, overall play from the upperclassmen really left this game never in doubt. The final score was 15-8.
The excellent work of Vashon was recognized by the conference with seven players making the all-conference team, with Duncan McMillan as goalie, Carlos Hernandez on defense and Mason Rice as “Long Stick Midfielder.” Also in the midfield are both Paris Brown and Calvin McMillan, and on attack are Kiryk Mozeleski and Max Schira.
With only five on the bench it was more about playing hard with nagging injuries, and less about depth.
The teams’ only defeat during the regular season was against a non-league rival, Liberty, and that opponent was exactly who the Vultures had to contend with in the State quarterfinal playoff, having earned a bye in the first round. Although the Vultures had home field advantage, with the “friendly confines” of VHS stadium under construction, the team found Miller Playfield west of Capitol Hill as our playoff location. In a move of good sportsmanship, Coach Daniel Macca also allowed the game to be moved from Saturday back a day to Friday, as Liberty had their prom on Saturday.
The game started bumpy, with Liberty winning the face-off, and mounting consistent full field pressure. The Vulture defense clawed the ball away on numerous occasions, but the swarming Liberty midfield forced turnovers and bad passes at every turn. The Vashon defense held on, but the Vultures only had three offensive possessions in the entire first half; and yet, at halftime, it was only 3-0 for Liberty.
In the second half, junior Jake Carmen scored for the Vultures, making it 3-1, but that was the closest Vasho would get. Liberty was up 4-1 shortly, then 5-1, 5-2 (Shira scored), 6-2, 6-3 (McMillan scored) and finally 7-3 for the final. Hernandez put in a major shift. He did not sub out the entire game and was “just a beast on defense” as he has been all year long. Senior Schira also gave it his all and demonstrated once again his incredible skill snatching balls out of the air on the run under immense pressure. He was both generous and skilled with his passing as he has been all year. Hernandez and Schira have been the heart and soul of the team. Senior captain McMillan had the game of his life. He kept the Vultures in the game with save after save, and he was playing with stress fractures in a vertebrae: brave, fearless leadership. Duncan, we will really miss your skills, your fortitude and your good nature.
This team put on quite a year, and it just seems like the season ended at least one game too soon. Final stats on the season include: McMillan #2 in state 1a/2a save percent: 63.4. Schira had 32 goals and 20 assists. Brown had 19 goals, a whopping 30 assists and a team-leading 45 ground ball wins. Mozeleski had 33 goals and 9 assists. McMillan had 22 goals and 11 assists, and let’s just say oppenents felt his presence on occasion. Carmen had 16 goals and 5 asissts. In midfield, Rice, Dom Nagle and Finn McClure gobbled up 118 ground balls evenly split among them. On defense, Joe Ghigleri had 30 ground balls and Hernandez another 26.
It is this author’s hope that the rising senior class will pick up next year where this team left off and that all the players work hard in the off-season to come back stronger next year.
— Greg Martin