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Kickers earn plaudits after historic season
It was a historic year for the Bainbridge boys’ soccer team.
Though the Spartans missed out on the Metro League Mountain Division title by one point to Lakeside, Bainbridge took revenge by defeating the Lions in the Metro League championship game for its first ever Metro League title.
The team continued its historic run by blowing out Decatur and blanking Mount Vernon in the state tournament, then upsetting defending state champions Glacier Peak in a penalty shootout in the semifinals.
Though they lost in the title game to Camas, the Spartans still added a second place trophy and a academic state title to the school trophy case.
For their efforts this season, eight Spartans made the All-Metro team.
Joe McKenzie was a first team selection and Matt Parker was a honorable mention pick.
Seven Spartans and coach George Vukic also made the All-Kitsap News Group team.
The team was compiled by sports writers for the Bainbridge Island Review, Bremerton Patriot, Central Kitsap Reporter, North Kitsap Herald and the Port Orchard Independent. Candidates for the team are nominated by the writers for their respective areas.
The nominees are then voted on by the writers; the top vote getters make the teams. Up to three honorable mentions are also selected from each school for each sport. The teams include the best players from area schools that not only performed well individually, but played a role in the success of their team.
The starting XI
F – Alex Raquer, Bainbridge, senior: Raquer used his speed to get past many a defender this season, scoring 16 goals and contributing an assist. He scored his last six in the postseason, including the game winner in the Metro League title game. Raquer will try to walk on at the University of Washington next year.
He was an All-Metro first team selection.
F – James Hill, Bremerton, senior: Hill, the league’s top scorer, helped lead the Knights to its first state tournament appearance in 20 years. Hill made the most of his last year with Bremerton, tallying 14 goals and six assists during the season. Bremerton relied heavily on Hill to help anchor the team, especially when fellow top scorer Nick Riders missed three games due to a red card violation.
MF – Diego de la Cruz, South Kitsap, junior: De la Cruz is the lone remaining player at the school who played for the Wolves’ 2009 4A state championship team. But the third-year starter’s presence on the field goes beyond historical distinctions. Some at the school argue that he might be the best player in program history and head coach James Ritchie expects de la Cruz, who scored 11 goals and had 10 assists this season, to play professionally.
“His technique is absolutely incredible,” Ritchie said. “Without a doubt, Diego is one of the most talented players I’ve ever seen.”
MF – Jordan Kollars, Central Kitsap, sophomore: Kollars has only played two seasons with the Cougars and he’s already making a name for himself. He totaled eight goals and 11 assists last season as he helped lead Central Kitsap to its second state tournament appearance in three seasons.
MF – Michael Crowley, Bainbridge, sophomore: Crowley formed a formidable partnership with Connor Winship in the midfield as he helped the Spartans to the state championship game for the first time in school history. He led the team with 10 assists and scored five goals.
Crowley was a All-Metro first team selection.
MF – Miles Rodriguez-Nielsen, Central Kitsap, junior: Rodriguez-Nilsen was one of Central Kitsap’s top scorers, leading the team with 10 goals and four assists last season. The CK standout played an important role in the team’s victories over top league favorites Bellarmine Prep and Gig Harbor.
D – Will Devereaux, Bainbridge, senior: The versatile Devereaux did whatever was asked of him this season – from dropping back to clear balls and mark up on many a top scorer in the Metro League to moving up to the forward position and become a scoring option. He scored nine goals and registered four assists.
Devereaux was an All-Metro second team selection.
D – Evan Hancock, South Kitsap, senior: Hancock was one of the Wolves’ more experienced players among an inexperienced group of defenders this season. Despite that, the unit remained a strength as South held six opponents scoreless.
“He’s good at whipping in crosses and is strong on the tackle, as well,” Ritchie said.
D – Juan Ramirez, Kingston, senior: Ramirez lettered his freshman year and has done so ever since. Kingston head coach Craig Smith said Ramirez has played consistently on the defensive team as the “anchor” for four years, proving he is one of the best in the Olympic League.
D – Carlos Tirado, North Kitsap, junior: North Kitsap head coach Chris May said next to Juan Ramirez, Tirado was the best central defender in the Olympic League — and possibly all of Kitsap County. Along with his strength and quickness, Tirado is skillful with the ball and able to use both feet. May said Tirado has a great “soccer IQ.”
He became a captain halfway through the season after the Vikings lost a senior captain.
GK – Nic Miller, Bainbridge, senior: Miller was big for the Spartans all season, notching 10 clean sheets and a .77 goals against average as he helped Bainbridge earn a spot in the 3A state title game. The senior had his best run in the postseason when he posted shutouts in three games and made a mammoth save in the penalty shootout in the semifinal game against Glacier Peak.
Coach of the year
George Vukic, Bainbridge: A master of tactics, the sixth-year coach made all the right moves as he led Bainbridge to a first Metro League title, a first academic state title and a first state finalist trophy.
MF Connor Winship, Bainbridge, junior: Winship was part of a strong midfield that was key to the Spartans’ run to the state title game. He scored seven goals and added five assists. Winship was an All-Metro honorable mention selection.
MF Brad Olson, Bainbridge, senior: Olson was one of many players that could be counted on to score for the Spartans this season. He finished with seven goals and two assists.
Olson was also a All-Metro honorable mention.
GK Jaxom Beverage, South Kitsap, sophomore; F Dallas Brewster, South Kitsap, senior; D Austin Hammer, South Kitsap, sophomore; GK Jason Kramberger, Kingston, senior; D/F Chad Trask, Kingston, senior; MF Nick Tedford, North Kitsap, junior; MF Alex Olson, North Kitsap, junior; MF Alex Correll, Bremerton, junior, F Nick Riders, Bremerton, junior; F Lucas Thoresen, Central Kitsap, junior; MF Brian Bonafilia, Central Kitsap, midfielder; CM Marc Barbosa, Klahowya, senior, D Ryan Frederick, Klahowya, junior; F Riley Dreany, Olympic, junior; GK Harry Hanson, Olympic, sophomore.