SLIDESHOW: Friday Harbor boys soccer team buoyantly returns as state champions
- Written by Matt Pranger
- Published in Sports Photos
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The ride back to San Juan Island on the last ferry of the night is always more enjoyable after a win for Friday Harbor High School athletic teams. Saturday the boys soccer team revelled in one of the most buoyant homebound sailings in more than three decades. By dispatching Orcas Island High School 2-1 in the 2022 Class 1B/2B Boys State Soccer Final in Renton, the Wolverines brought home their school’s first state champion trophy since 1986.
The officials lead the Vikings and Wolverines on Renton Memorial Stadium's pitch for the Class 1B/2B Championship. Matt Pranger photo
“This feels sooo good,” said senior Mason Clark after the team bounced up and down in the ferry’s cabin, chanting the futbol standard “Olé, Olé, Olé” with fans.
“It felt pretty dang good,” Friday Harbor coach Brett Paul said of the victory over the defending champions and the Wolverines’ cross-water rival. “It was one hell of a championship.”
“It definitely feels good,” said junior Alden Carli, who scored the Wolverines’ first goal. “We got fourth last year and we were all pretty sad about that. It definitely feels good to beat Orcas in the final.”
“I’m super excited…This is the best way to end our senior-year season — going out on a win,” said senior Owen Conde Raggett, who booted in what became the title-clinching goal.
“We made history, not many people can say that and I’m honored to be part of that,” said senior Colby Border.
Wolverine Colby Border and Viking Pedro Guerra battle for the ball. Matt Pranger photo
“We had some close games but we just knew that we were the better team,” said senior Jasper Williamson. “Coming into each game we knew that if we just executed and kept our composure, we would come out on top… We did and it feels great.”
“We’re the G.O.A.T.s, the best team ever for Friday Harbor,” said junior Mateo Zapelli.
The champions wait to disembark. Val Curtis photo
Members of Friday Harbor’s 1986 volleyball squad, through social media, congratulated the victorious booters but reminded them they put the first state champion hardware for a team in the school’s trophy case. That fact didn’t dampen the celebration. Friday Harbor American Legion Post 163 saluted the victors with a cannon blast as the ferry glided into the harbor. The soccer team, grasping a “STATE CHAMPIONS” banner, marched up the ferry ramp and was greeted with cheers, horn honks and flashing lights and sirens from islanders and emergency vehicles.
“We’re so grateful for the island's support,” Paul said. “The island really made the event special and memorable for the team.”
Friday Harbor fans also made the trip for the two-day finals and filled a large portion of Renton Memorial Stadium. “It was electric to have that size of crowd,” Paul added.
Friday Harbor's vocal fans filled a sizable portion of the stands. Matt Pranger photo
Orcas Island fans cheer on the Vikings. Matt Pranger photo
In their fourth contest with Orcas (16-3) this season, the Wolverines (15-2) broke their title drought with stellar play in the championship match against the tough Viking squad.
“Today we played the best soccer that Friday Harbor has probably ever played, and certainly the best soccer as a team of these guys have ever played,” Paul said after the match Saturday.
The island rivals didn’t score in the first half. Eight minutes into the second period, Carli headed in the first goal into the right corner of the net off Zach Place’s assist. “Owen trapped it out of the air, sent it to Zach on the right wing and he made a one-touch pass,” Paul said. “Zach cranked a well-placed cross that met Alden’s head. It was a laser beam.”
Wolverine Owen Conde Raggett (8) celebrates after scoring the second goal. Matt Pranger photo
Friday Harbor continued their aggressive offensive push and scored their second goal about eight minutes later. Carli went to the ground on what the Wolverine coaches and fans believed was a foul. Instead of throwing their hands up and griping about a no-call, the Wolverines played on. “Jasper settled the ball and flicked it over to Owen, who shot it in,” Paul said. “That was a great recovery play.”
Viking Ethan Moss' (14) goal cut the Wolverines' lead to 2-1. Matt Pranger photo
The Vikings dampened the Wolverine fans’ and players’ celebratory mood briefly after a ball was slotted through Friday Harbor’s back line and junior Ethan Moss booted it into the net with about 24 minutes to go. “He finished it well,” Paul said.
Orcas threatened down the stretch on a few corner kicks but Friday Harbor’s defense prevented an equalizer.
“What a fun game,” Paul said. “They all played their hearts out. Each one I think about, it was their best game of the season. They all stepped up.”
The Wolverines probably controlled possession of the ball 65 percent of the match and made several more shots on goal than the Vikings. Carli contributed considerably to the Wolverines’ possession domination and earned the Most Valuable Player Award for his performance. Although a left forward, he ranged across the entire pitch. “Alden was all over the place,” Paul said.
Friday Harbor goalie Luke Totten skies and snags a Viking shot late in the match. Matt Pranger photo
Senior goalkeeper Luke Totten anchored the Wolverines’ stifling defense and was “a key component of why we won the first game on penalty kicks and won the second game,” Paul said. “He made several notable saves in both the first half and second half in the championship.”
“I was really proud of how we played,” Totten said. “We were able to start out really strong this game and were able to control it. I was really happy about that.”
Orcas Island goalie Paxson White stretches to block a shot from Friday Harbor's Alden Carli. Matt Pranger photo
The Vikings’ defense prevented the Wolverines from pulling away in the second period. Senior goalie Paxton White made several saves. “Their goalie played a great game,” Paul said. “He kept them in the game.”
Even at the end of the match the Vikings kept hustling.
“Orcas played really well. They always do,” Paul said.
Viking senior Celia Groening thwarted a break-away goal with a hard tackle in front of the net with minutes to go. The senior drew a red card and praise from the opposing coach. “That was a great foul. That kept them in the game,” Paul said.
The Wolverines’ coach likened their success in the finals to a concept detailed in “Boys in the Boat.” The 1936 Olympic champion crew, who practiced a few miles north on Lake Washington, would row flawlessly; they would “swing” in unity. “It’s all about synergy,” Paul said. “There’s a moment when everybody is linked up and on the same wavelength. All the mechanisms of a play come together cohesively, and I think that’s what happened today and yesterday. It was pretty exciting to watch.”
Friday Harbor’s first loss of the season — a 3-0 defeat at Coupeville in the second week of the season made the team realize the difference between being “confident” and “complacent,” Paul said. The Wolverines rallied in a few matches and lost only once more — a 3-2 defeat to Orcas.
“They did a really good job of fighting through adversity,” Paul said.
The Wolverines teamwork shined in the finals. “It really just came down to these guys’ character,” Paul said. “They were in the right mindset. There was a lot of camaraderie yesterday and today in how they were talking with each other and building each other up — on and off the field.”
Friday Harbor’s determined drive for a title actually started last year with a loss in a state semifinal to Orcas. “They realized their potential last season when they finished fourth at state,” Paul said.
The Wolverines celebrate at Renton Stadium. Matt Pranger photo
The dozen Wolverine seniors — Luke Totten, Erik Corbin, Gleb Caireac, Adam Strasbourger, Alex Mora, Colby Border, Owen Conde Raggett, Zach Place, Jasper Williamson, Jonah Parsons, Mason Clark and Bryce Borgquist —provided plenty of leadership for the team’s championship season. They overcame a cancelled season in 2019 due to COVID and their arch-rivals blocking them from the championship in 2021.
“They’re a great group…They not only played good soccer, but built a positive team culture for our team,” their coach noted.
“This season has been a lot of fun,” Conde Raggett said. “We work really well together as a team. We live on a small island and have known each other our whole lives and that really helped us a lot this year.”
“Everyone was working hard all summer and in the season,” Williamson said. “We put in the hard work and it paid off.”
“I just got to thank my teammates and coaches for building such a tight-knit group that brought us together,” Border said.
“It couldn’t have been better. It’s been a great road for them,” Paul said.
The Wolverine coach was pleased that all 12 seniors played in the championship: “That was special.”
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