After winning the Nisqually League Championship, the top-seeded team of the West Central District, our very own Vashon Pirates kicked off their first playoff game on Tuesday, May 10.
The Pirates clinched a 3-1 win in the West Central District Semifinals in front of a packed home crowd, bringing them one step closer to the State Championship.
“It’s great to have a large crowd full of cheering and good energy, [it] always elevates our play,” said senior co-captain Evan Keppler.
An early goal just four minutes in, by junior Nick Zuckerman, and assisted by junior Moses Trundle-Strachan, got the Pirates off to a strong start. And just a few minutes later, senior co-captain Levi Stahl put another shot in the back of the net. His assist came from freshman Rowan Marceau-Roache, who took a free kick from the 25 yard line, and placed the ball in the goal box. Stahl received the ball just feet from the goal line, shot and scored, bringing the score up to 2-0.
Stahl, often a defending player, had another key moment in the attack in the 36th minute, sending a highlight-worthy through ball to Trundle-Strachan. Trundle-Strachan dribbled past Life Christian’s keeper, increasing the Pirates’ lead to 3-0.
The second half was less eventful, with no goals scored by Vashon, and only one by Life Christian off of a penalty kick.
The Pirates moved on, playing again on Thursday, May 12, at Stadium High School against longtime rivals, Bellevue Christian.
With a few key players still on the bench due to injury, the Pirates had a rough game, losing 2-0 to Bellevue. A win would have secured a spot for them in the State tournament, but due to double-elimination, they were given a second chance on Saturday, May 14.
On Saturday afternoon, the Pirates once again found themselves at The Stadium Bowl, but this time in a rematch game against Life Christian. With everything on the line, the Pirates rose to the occasion and won in “golden goal overtime” — a term describing a game-winning goal scored during overtime in a tied or scoreless game.
For the first 90 minutes, the game was close, as neither team scored and tensions were high. But once the game was in overtime, and after 100 long minutes, the Pirates had their moment.
Senior defender Teo Eckhardt won the ball in the Pirates’ defending third, and sent a long ball nearly 30 yards to senior co-captain Bellamy Cox-Sitkiewicz.
Life Christian’s center-mid defending Cox-Sitkiewicz stumbled, and Cox-Sitkiewicz, capitalizing on the mistake, headed the ball from Eckhardt down to his feet, and went for goal. He shot the ball low and hard, and it flew past Life Christian’s keeper. The game ended as the second the ball hit the back of the net, and the Pirates swarmed the field in celebration.
While Bellevue Christian claimed the title of West Central district champions, the Vashon Pirates came in at second place, and earlier this week moved on to the State tournament.
“It’s become obvious that there are about 15 or so talented teams in our state. We are one of them,” said Pirates’ head coach Scott Nicolino. “Our players have an amazing grasp on the game. Not to mention, incredible talent and chemistry. Now, it all comes down to which team can execute, and string four or five wins together in a row. One team will do it; why not us?”
The Pirates’ first tournament game will take place before press time, on Wednesday, May 18, at home, against Manson High School. The winner of the game will advance to the round of 16.
Follow the team at govashonpirates.com.