The Cheney boys’ soccer team put together perhaps their most complete performance to date in this young Great Northern League season last Thursday, blanking projected league champion East Valley 3-0 at home.
“I was pretty surprised by everything we did and what East Valley didn’t do,” Blackhawks’ head coach Mark Kiver said.
The Knights played the first half without their main weapon, last year’s GNL scoring leader Adam Talley. The senior forward did play in the second half, but not long.
For Kiver, his absence wasn’t the story. The story was something the Blackhawks strive for each season, and something he and assistant coach Matt Pollack challenged the players to find after Monday’s disappointing 2-0 loss to 4A Lewis and Clark – the chemistry to get something done.
“Like I said before, it’s all about chemistry and being on the same page,” Kiver said.
Cheney was on the same page early on. In the 13th minute, they got the eventually game winner from sophomore defender Cruz Galm. Galm was playing forward on a throw-in when the ball deflected in his direction and without moving too much, sailed a 20-yard shot into the net for a 1-0 lead.
The Blackhawks got a pair of insurance goals in the second half from midfielder Trevan Estrellado, assisted by Ian Shirey in the 53rd minute and Micah Weller in the 67th minute. The junior midfielder just missed a hat trick as one of his shots in the first half bounced off the goal post, and Weller missed with a shot that struck the cross bar and ricocheted straight down, but not in.
The Blackhawks out shot the Knights 17-9 with goalkeeper Joe Scott recording five saves.
Cheney was to have played a rare Monday game against West Valley (1-3, 3-4, 3 points) in Millwood, but a scheduling snafu moved the game to Tuesday and to Cheney. It will make for a challenging stretch for the Blackhawks, who host Clarkston (1-3, 2-3, 3 points) Thursday and Pullman (3-0, 4-2, 9 points) Saturday.
The Blackhawks, at 3-0 and 4-2, are tied with Pullman atop the league standings; something Kiver isn’t exactly sure how to take just yet. The two Spokane Valley schools along with Colville have been beating up on each other and while the Greyhounds haven’t lost in league, they have lost to a common nonleague opponent, 3-0 at home to Othello, a 2A team West Valley knocked off 4-2 on the road last Friday.
While who is going to emerge as the actual front runner may be an enigma right now, Kiver feels the East Valley win has given his players confidence.
“If we can get some consistency, we’ll be fine,” he added.
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.