The Vashon tennis team entered the last week of its season with a strong 6-0 record. With only one more League match against Life Christian, the goal to end with a perfect season finally became a reality.
The last match was a bit unusual as LCA showed late, and in order to get everyone playing time, all the matches were doubles. Getting strong wins were Finn Hawkins/Davis Rice (6-3), Evan Kepplar/Colin McIntyre (6-1) and Zach Van Dusen/Hatcher Freda (6-2).
In a tuneup for the League tournament, John Maciejewski/Danny Baldinger dropped a close (4-6) set to LCA‘s top team. As a result, the Pirates took a 3-1 win and preserved their perfect record in league play for the second consecutive year.
On Friday, the Pirates started the two-day Nisqually League Tournament. Without District or State tournaments this year, the League Tournament is the culminating event for the season. Each team sends two singles players and two doubles teams. This format had the potential to pose a challenge, as the Pirates had relied on their #3 doubles team to win matches much of the season and the format reduced the depth advantage Vashon held most of the year. The Pirates’ goal looked like it would require some exceptional play on their part.
On day one, Pirate freshman Colin McIntyre, who had perhaps the most difficult draw in the tournament, set the tone early by fighting hard in a more than respectable 1-6 4-6 loss to one of the top players in the tournament. In his next match, Colin faced another excellent player. He lost the first set but rallied and fought back hard to take the next set and then the tiebreaker for a 2-6, 6-3, 10-5 win. Playing his third match of the day, Colin lost in the next round to a much higher seed. The second loss ended his run in the tournament, but his performance was exceptional.
On the other side of the draw, Evan Kepplar had earned a higher seed and cruised to a 6-0, 6-0 first-round win. He followed that up with a 6-3, 7-5 win over the #2 seed in the tournament and a player he had lost to earlier in the season. The win put Evan into the singles final and gave the Pirates a big boost toward the team title. In the only day one doubles match, John Maciejewski/Danny Baldinger looked strong in a 6-2,6-0 win that sent them all the way to the semifinals. Strong play by everyone put the Pirates in a good position at the end of Friday’s matches.
Day two started well for the Pirates. Zach Van Dusen/Lucas Schoenberg, who were seeded #2, came out strong and looked sharp in a 6-0,6-1 Quarterfinal win. In the semifinals, they met a little more resistance but won 6-1, 6-3 to earn a spot in the final. In the other semifinal, Maciejwski/Baldinger pushed the #1 seeded team hard before falling 5-7, 0-6. In the doubles final, Van Dusen/Schoenberg fought hard and had their chances, but in the end, the #1 seeded Cascade Christian team was just a bit too consistent, and the pair lost 3-6,4-6 in an exciting final, ending the day a strong second. In the singles final, Evan Kepplar played some great tennis, but the #1 seed from Annie Wright was just a bit stronger on a few key points and sent Evan out in second place 3-6,4-6. In the last match of the day, Maciejewski/Baldinger played for 3rd place in doubles. This was a wild up-and-down match, perhaps exemplifying the entire season, with the Pirates taking it in three tiebreakers 6-7, 7-6, 10-7.
Overall, the Pirates had a great tournament — finishing with two seconds, a third and a seventh; everyone played equal to or better than their seeded position and had some great wins. There were some excellent points played and everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun — especially those seniors playing their last high school match. Vashon won the Team Overall by a comfortable margin.
This year’s team deserves a lot of credit for their effort and achievements. They practiced in snow, often into darkness, played every match away, and put in lots of travel time to make it happen. What looked to be a rebuilding year turned into a very successful season with every player contributing and progressing. The team grew into a great combination of new and returning players who really bonded, got along well, supported each other and worked hard. Every player on this team contributed to its success and should be proud of how they made the most of a short and very different season. — Pat Mulvihill, Coach
The Vashon High School Girls’ Soccer team was busy during playoffs week in the Nisqually League.
On Wednesday, March 17, they hosted Cascade Christian for the semi-finals match. In a game that was even more lopsided than their last meet-up, Vashon dominated defensively and offensively. The final score was 5-0 with goals from senior forward, Payton Venturi; sophomore midfielder Leah Gross; junior forward and co-captain, Phoebe Wilke; freshman midfielder, Kate Spranger; and junior forward, Cait Jeffcoat.
Vashon then met Bellevue Christian for the Nisqually League Championship Finals game Friday night at Sammamish High School.
The Vikings immediately set the tone of the game with their highly physical and fast-paced play, giving the Pirates very little space to set up the passes and plays that have led to their success in other games. Bellevue’s captain, Rylee Reese, was noticeably positioned near Vashon’s defensive line, in hopes of picking off an easy goal. Ten minutes into the game, this strategy worked as Reese capitalized on a Bellevue throw in drawing senior goalie and co-captain Tamsen Henry off the line. Reese barreled the ball off of Henry and pushed past her to score an early goal.
Emboldened by their lead, Bellevue continued to play very aggressively. The ref seemed to struggle to manage play throughout the game, inconsistently letting egregious fouls go, only to call something incidental the next minute as if to compensate. On more than one occasion, Vashon coach, Scott Nicolino voiced his frustrations with the way the game was called.
Much of the first half was played in the middle of the field as both teams struggled to make connections and build momentum towards the goal. Finally, in the 25th minute, Bellevue sent the ball through to Reese, and in an almost identical play, once again met Henry way off the line at the top of the box. Reese again drove the ball off Henry, pushed past her and scored an easy goal, taking Bellevue to a 2-0 lead.
Just two minutes later, junior Phoebe Wilke drew a foul, and Vashon had a free kick opportunity just ten yards outside of the box. Freshman midfielder Linnea Heuschert took the kick that was easily caught by Bellevue’s goalie. The rest of the half ended with more play in the middle of the field, as neither team created any real chances to score.
The second half progressed much like the first with both defensive lines shutting down any play near the goal. With only fifteen minutes left in the game, Bellevue’s right forward was heading into the box and was met by Tamsen Henry. In what looked like a clean tackle, Henry sent the ball towards the goal line for a Bellevue corner kick. However, Bellevue’s player went down and the ref awarded a penalty kick. Rylee Reese stepped up for the kick and she sent a low ball to the right corner of the net.
Despite this devastating moment, Vashon continued to play with integrity and heart, redoubling their efforts to get to the goal. In an exciting moment, Bellevue’s left defender misjudged a bounce and Phoebe Wilke raced past her to take the ball into the box. Releasing a left-footed kick from the corner of the box, she just missed the far post to score.
Bellevue quickly answered setting up their favorite play, and once again Henry met Reese near the top of the box. This time, however, freshman defender Alana Bass was ready to meet the ball just before the goal. Reese, determined to score again, crashed into Bass, sending her and the ball flying into the net. The ref let the goal stand.
Admirably, Vashon continued to play their hardest right up until the final whistle. Despite a frustrating and disappointing ending to what has been a fun and successful season, the players all gathered together while Bellevue celebrated their 4-0 win.
Senior Payton Venturi was awarded the sportsmanship award and she and Tamsen Henry accepted the second-place plaque for the team immediately following the game. — Jenni Wilke, parent
The Mustang and Pirate harriers raced in their final meets last week to round out their short season.
The Mustangs traveled to Tacoma’s Titlow park on March 16 under sunny skies to run against five other teams and finish as league champions for both boys and girls. Traditionally scored with a teams’ first five runners, the middle schools are using the first three runners due to some schools having small teams — but in either scoring system the Mustangs came out on top. The races were run in mixed waves according to predicted finish times to keep the fields small and reduce potential viral transmission.
The Mustang girls capped their unblemished season with another team win led by first-place Emily Harrison, followed by Cecilia Guenther, Daisy Jones, Laurel Calhoun, and sisters Marianna and Autumn Daly, all setting personal or season bests over the 1.47-mile course. The boys’ team also prevailed under a win by Bodie Thomas, who was followed by Josh Healey, Brent Calhoun, Dominic Medeiros, Cash Nowicki, Simon Zapf and Oliver Bresnik. The teams held their final celebration on Thursday, sending off their seven eighth-graders to high school competition in the fall, grateful for their leadership and mentorship they developed over the past three seasons.
For their final league championship, the Pirates did not have good weather luck, competing at Fort Steilacoom under a drenching cold rain against five schools. The Pirate women were led by freshman Madeline Yarkin, who once again finished in first place, while also nabbing a First Team All-League status. Yarkin was supported by freshmen Taylor Huffman and Amelia Medeiros, who were named to the Second Team. The Pirate women will return all of their league finishers next season.
The Pirate men’s team was led to third place by senior Captain Ursa Medeiros, who was also named to First Team All-League. Medeiros was supported by Mead Gill, Levi Blasingim, Ben Larson, Hank McSheehy, Tyler Huffman, Clayton Longworthy and Dillon Fick.
A “virtual” State Championship was run by the Pirates on Sunday, running 5k on the track, with their times entered against other 1-A schools. In windy and cold conditions, many set personal bests at the distance, which is rarely run in high schools on the track. Results are pending. — Bruce Cyra, Mustangs coach