Zach Bush has been a big name in Wesco 4A boys soccer this season.
Maybe that’s because there are two of them.
Both Kamiak and Lake Stevens have key players named Zach Bush, and tonight the namesakes square off as the Knights and Vikings conduct their one-and-only meeting of the regular season.
“It is a very unique name,” Lake Stevens coach Kit Shanholtzer said. “I read (the Herald’s) players to watch and saw Zach Bush and I was like, ‘Oh yeah! … oh, wrong one.’ It is cute, and I think it’s pretty funny that they grew up in the same area and are similar kids. I think they’re both great players.”
Observers of Wesco soccer can be forgiven if they’ve had moments of confusion between the two Zach Bushes. After all, even their teammates fell prey to a case of mistaken identity.
At the beginning of the season, Lake Stevens captain Austin Aitken created a group text message for the players who made the Vikings’ varsity roster, building a hub for sharing practice information and engaging in some friendly banter. However, Aitken plays club soccer with Kamiak’s Zach Bush, and when he created the Lake Stevens team text message, he accidentally included the wrong Zach Bush.
What followed was a week’s worth of puzzlement and hilarity.
“When they were texting I was getting all these messages from numbers I didn’t know,” Kamiak’s Zach Bush said with bemusement. “Then one of the guys said his name was Zach Bush, and I was super confused because I thought they knew who I was. I kept on texting them saying, ‘Who are you people?’ And they would just laugh and make fun of me and they wouldn’t take me out of it, so I’d get 50 texts from random numbers all day long.”
Meanwhile, Lake Stevens’ Zach Bush was feeling a little left out.
“I was kind of mad because I wasn’t in it for a while,” the Lake Stevens Zach Bush said. “I was like, ‘Come on guys, get me in it, I want to see all these funny pictures and funny things they were saying.’
“Then (the Kamiak Zach Bush) started putting some funny things in, responding with a bunch of spam,” Lake Stevens’ Zach Bush added. “He pretended to be me for a while. He’d be like, ‘Hey, I’m at my house right now, want to come hang out?’ I think that’s how a couple of them ended up showing up at my house one time.”
The two Zach Bushes have more in common than just their name. They’re both seniors who are key components of their teams. They’re both listed on their roster as defenders, though in reality they’ve traded places on the field this season — Kamiak’s Zach Bush was an all-league forward last season who’s been switched to defense. Lake Stevens’ Zach Bush spent his prep career as a defender before being employed more at forward and midfield this season. They both even wear the same No. 15, a fact they only discovered last Thursday when they had their first official meeting.
“I’ve known about him for a little while, but didn’t know him personally,” Kamiak’s Zach Bush said. “It’s interesting that we have the same name and play in the same league. My mom met his mom a little while ago and found out they had the same last name, then she said, ‘I have a son named Zach who plays soccer.’ My mom was like, ‘No way, me too!”
Added Lake Stevens’ Zach Bush: “I actually think it’s really neat. He’s got great skill and it’s great to watch. He is everything I wish I could be and want to be, because he’s so calm and collected.”
While tonight’s game features the battle of the Zach Bushes, it also pits two teams in the thick of the Wesco race.
Kamiak finds itself atop the standings in the Wesco 4A South. The Knights, coming off a narrow 1-0 loss to North Division leader Snohomish last Thursday, are 6-3 in the league, 6-4 overall, and their 18 points give them a four-point cushion over second-place Mariner.
“Coming in I had no idea what to expect,” first-year Kamiak coach Kosta Pitharoulis said. “I knew they graduated about 10 seniors from last year’s team, so I think the guys were somewhat unsure as well. A lot of these guys played JV last year, and the JV was successful last year. It’s come together pretty well, and the camaraderie of the team is pretty good. They get along great and are putting some wins together.”
Meanwhile, Lake Stevens is stalking Snohomish in the Wesco 4A North. The Vikings, coming off a 2-1 overtime victory over Lynnwood on Friday, are 7-2 in the league and 7-2-2 overall. Their 21 points put the Vikings in second place, six points behind the Panthers.
“There’s a point in the season when you can see a team start to mesh,” Shanholtzer said. “These guys spent a whole bunch of time together just playing around, having team dinners and stuff. There’s an off-field component of camaraderie that a coach can try to build, but it takes some special guys to really find each other as a group. They’ve been successful because of it. We’ve overcome a lot of adversity because our relationships, and it’s fun to watch.”
But while both teams are experiencing success, it remains to be seen which Zach Bush will be celebrating at the end of the night.