The Vashon High School Girls’ soccer team opened their season with a friendly away game, playing the Eatonville Cruisers on Monday, Sept. 6.
Coming off of a second-place finish in the league, and only losing two seniors, there has been a lot of optimism about this season.
And it turns out, that optimism is warranted. Just three minutes into the game, sophomore Olivia Boyes scored from the top of the box as an attacking midfielder. Vashon continued to dominate the game, both in possession and shots on goal. After senior outside mid and co-captain Phoebe Wilke won a corner kick, her fellow captain, sophomore Linnea Heuschert, expertly sent it in, bending into the goal.
A few minutes after that, Boyes saw another opportunity for a long shot, shooting the ball sailing over the goalie’s head. Not to be outdone, Heuschert sent in her own long shot, only to have it bounce off the crossbar. She had to settle for scoring off of another set-piece, this time a free-kick, in the thirty-third minute. Heading into the half with a 4-0 lead, Vashon’s defensive line had not seen much action from Eatonville, mostly only touching the ball when their own teammates passed back to set up plays.
The team continued to maintain heavy possession of the ball and was relentless in taking shots on the goal. After a few unsuccessful attempts, junior attacking midfielder, Hanifa Khidr, cut into the box and took a strong shot only to have it blocked by the goalie. Khidr immediately followed, sending it back into the net, increasing Vashon’s lead to 5-0.
Not ten minutes later, sophomore attacking mid, Mallory Keenan, sent a ball through to freshman center forward, Besa Hruska, who scored from just inside the box. This seemed to light a fire under Eatonville’s offensive line, who finally managed to bring a ball down the field to take their first shot on goal. Unfortunately for them, sophomore goalie Ivy Staczek was there to make the save. With Eatonville’s defensive line suddenly higher up on the field, Hruska was able to dribble past them on a breakaway, claiming her own second goal of the night.
Despite holding a 7-0 lead, Vashon continued to play at a high level, looking for passes and setting up plays. One standout example of this was the give-and-go play executed by junior Vera Moses and senior Phoebe Wilke. Trading passes with Moses between Eatonville’s midfield and defenders, Wilke found herself in the box and able to send in a low shot past the goalie to the outside corner.
Eatonville rallied again, desperate to get on the board, trying to score off of a free-kick with just three minutes left. Luck was not on their side and the ball bounced off the crossbar. Shortly after that, Eatonville managed to get around the Vashon defenders for the first time off of a throw-in. Staczek boldly met their forward at the top of the box, sliding in to make a dramatic save.
In the final minute of the game, Vashon found the back of the net again with senior Cait Jeffcoat, neatly passing the ball to senior, Nikki Becker, making the final score 9-0.
Just three days later, Vashon faced last season’s Nisqually League Champions, Bellevue Christian, on Thursday, Sept. 9. On the way to the field, players were feeling nervous and excited on the bus. Knowing Bellevue’s lead scorer had graduated, Vashon felt they had a chance to log their first conference win.
Vashon won the kick-off and maintained possession from the start, firing off a few shots in the first twenty minutes. At about 30 minutes, freshman Besa Hruska subbed in as center forward. Shortly after, center defender, freshman Meah McInerney sent a through ball to Besa, who successfully scored from just inside the left corner of the box. Despite a strategic header off a corner kick, Bellevue was unable to equalize before the half, with Staczek leaping backward just in time to make the save. During half-time, players decided to focus on keeping up the intensity on offense and preparing for Bellevue to come out strong in the second half.
But both teams were unable to create any chances until attacking midfielder and sophomore, Olivia Boyes, scored from the top of the box off of a cross from junior Hanifa Khidr.
Vashon did not enjoy their comfortable 2-0 lead for long. Bellevue finally found an opportunity to score. Taking a free-kick perfectly placed between the box and midfield, the ball sailed in just below the crossbar and was too high for sophomore goalie, Zoe Nowicki, to reach.
With the score at 2-1 both teams continued to battle for the win. Bellevue’s offense was continually frustrated by Vashon’s defensive line: sophomore Alana Bass; junior Leah Gross; freshman Meah McInverney and Wilke called back to play sweeper. In stoppage time, sophomore attacking midfielder, Mallory Keenan, managed to guarantee the win, cutting in and dribbling the ball into the box, slicing the ball into the goal from the six-yard line.
The team celebrated their 3-1 win on the bus, FaceTiming last year’s co-captain and goalie, Tamsen Henry.
From her position as sweeper, co-captainWilke observed, “Watching from the backline, you can tell that this team really wants the league title this year and to do well in the playoffs. Even though we are a young team, no one is backing away from the physicality needed to play against older girls.”
Vashon hosts two home games on Monday, Sept. 20, vs. Annie Wright and Wednesday, Sept. 22, vs. East Jefferson (Port Townsend and Chimacum combined). The kick-off is at 5:45 pm for both games.