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Ukrainian teens find solace in soccer in Vancouver

Boys whose families fled war become key members of Fort Vancouver High School’s cosmopolitan team

By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer
Published: April 30, 2023, 6:06am
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9 Photos
First generation Ukrainian American Denis Zayets, second from left, and Illia Strynada (13), a refugee from Ukraine, warm up with the soccer team before a match against Washougal at Fort Vancouver High School on Thursday, April 13, 2023.
First generation Ukrainian American Denis Zayets, second from left, and Illia Strynada (13), a refugee from Ukraine, warm up with the soccer team before a match against Washougal at Fort Vancouver High School on Thursday, April 13, 2023. (Elayna Yussen for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

As waves of missile strikes hit and Russian forces pounded his hometown of Kyiv, Ukraine, Illia Strynada and his family hastily packed what they could, piled into their vehicle, and frantically searched for a gas station.

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