Portrait of a champion: Orcas Vikings win state title three years after program’s launch | Girls Soccer

The Orcas Vikings hoist their trophy after winning the state championship Nov. 21 vs. Napavine. It
The Orcas Vikings hoist their trophy after winning the state championship Nov. 21 vs. Napavine. It's Orcas High School's first state title.
— image credit: Chris Gill / WestBoundary Photography

The Islands’ Sounder

Never before in the history of Orcas High School has a sports team made it to State and won the title.

In 1998, the football team took second place. The golf team and the girls softball team have also earned coveted second places, but not until the Orcas girls soccer team won the state title Nov. 21 has any Viking team gone to State and won the championship.

The Vikings defeated Napavine 4-1 after two scoreless overtimes to win the 1B/2B title.

What’s remarkable is that the girls soccer program is only three years old.

“It all started in a very homegrown setting, literally,” Coach Chama Anderson said. “Bridget O’Toole approached me in the natural foods market about coaching an all-girls team ... And I said ‘yes.’ ”

Previously, the team was co-ed and coached by Terry Turner.

“I met Chama when my older daughter — who is 25 this year — was a fifth-grader,” Turner said. “We started a team to take the kids to Bellingham, mostly seventh-grade boys with some young girls mixed in ... I was head coach and Chama was an assistant coach. We took that team back and forth as a coed team for five, six years. Most of those girls ended up playing on the high school varsity boys coed team ...

“Normally there’d be two or three, maybe four, girls, but (in 2006) there was a larger group,” Turner said. “When they later opened it up to an all-girls team, that opportunity might have brought in some girls who would not have played if there were only boys.”

The approval for an all- girls team came in May 2007, which was late in the season to put a girls soccer schedule together in time for fall, but it worked out.

And so, 2007 saw the start of the Orcas girls soccer program.

In 2008, the team made it to the first round of State and took third place in the Tri-District playoffs. The team played Acosta and beat them in league play, and then they came up against Acosta in the state playoffs and Acosta won.

Bridget O’Toole became the team’s assistant coach this year.

Alison O’Toole, who started on the girls team in her sophomore year, is a senior now and is looking forward to trying out for the college soccer team at Western Washington University.

“Everywhere we go, someone is like ‘Oh, congratulations!’ — when I’m at the market, or at Teezers, or wherever,” Alison said. “It’s very awesome. I learned a lot about teamwork and patience — patience with myself and others — and it’s taught me how to work with people better.”

Stephanie Shaw also started when she was a sophomore. She has been playing soccer since seventh grade.

“In high school, we played with very big senior guys, which was both intimidating and it was awesome, because it made us compete at a higher level,” Shaw said. “Guys are much faster overall, so going to a girls team after playing with guys, it feels like you’re so much faster than the other girls.”

Anderson said her six seniors have been the heart of the team.

“Those six girls have been consistently motivated and dedicated with the development of this team,” she said. “They have always been so solid and dedicated and that commitment sets a precedence of how the team will move forward in the future. Their passionate play will influence the other players, and they all grew up together. I will miss them. I am so grateful for the foundation they have laid with me.”

Turner called the state championship a “rare and fantastic thing.”

“They not only won the state championship, but they won it with a ton of class and without sacrificing their values.”

He also gives credit to the coach.

“I think the team is extremely fortunate to have Chama. The way she coaches contributed to the team’s composure in the penalty kick situation.”

— Helen Sanders is a staff writer for The Sounder, a sister newspaper of The Journal.

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