Fort Vancouver celebrate winning a rare home soccer playoff game

It wasn’t easy on Thursday night, but there is little this season for the Fort Vancouver boys’ soccer team.

But it came as the Trappers beat rivals Hudson’s Bay 1-0 to win the program’s first home playoff game in two decades.

“We let teams go into the playoffs,” said Fort athletic director James Ensley. “Football is one of our more competitive programmes. We got state status a few years ago when Joe Chicks was our coach. But hosting a playoff game? We’ve all been talking, and we think it’s been 2002 since we did something like this.”

First-year head coach Juan Mendoza Rodriguez, a native of Vancouver, knows what this means for the Fort Vancouver program.

“For me, I’ve always played against Fort,” said Mendoza Rodriguez. “I went to Mountain View. I’m from Vancouver. And Fort always had individual players who were great, but as a team they didn’t play great. And when I came here, that was our goal. I don’t think they understand how important it is to Fort and to Vancouver, the community, to ensure Fort has a positive image.”

The trappers went into the season with high hopes. But making those dreams come true can often be a challenge.

“I think (the key) it’s easy to understand each other,” said team captain Nelson Zepeda. “We started the season with a new coach. We basically just had a big reset. And in this reset we had to build together, walk together. And we just have to really understand each other.”

The Trappers had to hit Bay straight and avoid another penalty shootout – something the Trappers experienced five times this season.

“It’s been a season of ups and downs,” said Mendoza Rodriguez. “We’ve had games where they’re like, ‘Hey, we’re going to win’ and it didn’t happen. The overtime thing – that was new to me because you usually draw a game – but we went five overtimes, we won three and lost two. So it was up and down, but it was fun.”

Zepeda said the overtime games showed the Trappers can play to the end.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s 90 minutes,” he said. “We could do 120 minutes if we had to. These guys just have the stamina to play to the final whistle and that will help us in the long run.”

Against Bay, the Trappers had several scoring problems but remained in a goalless tie for three quarters of the game before senior Morlai Sesay got the Trappers on the board.

After the win, Mendoza Rodriguez broke the news that the Trappers would be hosting a District 2A first-round game next Tuesday and sent the Trappers to celebrate.

“I think this is new to all of us,” Mendoza Rodriguez said. “So I think it’s just really exciting to have something new in the program. And letting the guys think they could do it together, not individually, that was kind of our thing – together, not individually. And it was great.”

Zepeda added: “It’s more just for our team, it’s for our whole school. It’s been over 20 years (Fort hosted a playoff game) and I wouldn’t want to do it with any other team. We’ve worked hard all season. We knew from the start that we would be somewhere. And we’re just proud that we’re here now.”

The Trappers will host WF west of Chehalis Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. on their field on campus. If the Trappers can win two out of three games in the district tournament next week, they will secure their first state berth in boys’ soccer since 1988.

“We’re excited, man,” said Zepeda. “Make sure you come out and watch.”

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