Lady Hawks show improvement on the pitch in final three games
No. 5 Cheney opens league soccer playoffs at No. 4 Clarkston
Even though the Cheney girls’ soccer team lost two of its final regular season games last week, head coach Nels Radtke sees positive results from those outcomes. The games were against three of the top four teams ahead of the Lady Hawks in the Great Northern League standings, and all were 2-1 results – including an upset of second-seeded West Valley.
“The second time around we were much closer to these three teams and that’s key in heading into the playoffs,” Radtke said.
Cheney went to a shootout to down the Eagles on Senior Day last Tuesday. After West Valley went up 1-0 with a goal in the ninth minute, Chae Brown connected off an assist by Reba Eaton for a goal tying the game in the 39th minute, and that’s where the score remained through the final 41 minutes of regulation and 10 minutes of overtime.
In the shootout, won by Cheney 8-7, Brown, Ashlyn Martin, Carlie Fox, Katie McNair, Haley Dixon, Eaton, Jaisa Holland and Abby Hammermeister all scored. West Valley out shot Cheney 13-5, with Lady Hawks’ goalkeeper Montana Andrews making a season-high 12 saves.
Thursday Cheney traveled to Clarkston for a needed win over the Bantams to have a chance to move up in playoff seeding. Brown gave Cheney the early 1-0 lead, but in a repeat of the Oct. 11 game at East Valley, Clarkston pulled even with Cheney on a goal in the 23rd minute, and connected for a goal in the 78th minute to pull out the win.
Both teams managed seven shots on goal – an indication of how close the game was – with Andrews making six saves.
Saturday the Lady Hawks were looking to gain a little postseason momentum down south against GNL regular-season champions and sixth-ranked Pullman, something Radtke believes they may have obtained under windy conditions on the Palouse.
The Greyhounds (12-0, 15-1 35 points) took the early lead in the 26th minute, but in the 69th minute the Lady Hawks tied it as Brown tracked down a nice through ball from Fox and beat two Pullman defenders to slot the ball into the net. Neither team scored in the final minutes of regulation, nor in the two, 5-minute overtimes, sending the game to a shootout won 3-2 by the Greyhounds, with Sierra Fix and Martin scoring for Cheney.
Cheney outshot Pullman 7-6 with Andrews making five saves.
“We out played them, especially with the conditions,” Radtke said. “We had the ball in their end a good portion of the game. We just need to get confidence, build from that in that they (Pullman) are the best team in the league, undefeated, and we almost beat them.”
Cheney finishes the regular season at 6-9 overall, fifth in the GNL at 5-7, 17 points. The Lady Hawks open the post season with loser-out action Thursday (Oct. 25) at fourth-seeded Clarkston (8-5, 7-5, 20 points). Radtke said they need to clean up their midfield game in order to get better possessions there, and for the first time this season, are pretty much healthy and at full strength.
“They’ve battled a lot this season,” Radtke said. “They’re deserving of some good playoffs.”
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.