Sometimes it doesn’t matter how you win, you just need to win.
The Cheney boys’ soccer team notched a pair of victories in just such a fashion last week, and in the process earned their second consecutive Great Northern League regular season title. The Blackhawks got unassisted goals from Daniel Bogart, 26th minute, and Micah Weller, 47th minute for a hard-fought, 2-0 road win last Tuesday in Clarkston, and turned around less than 48 hours later to produced a 3-2 shootout win at Pullman Thursday.
Cheney hasn’t lost a boys’ GNL soccer game since a 3-2 setback April 14 at Pullman – in 2011. Since then they’ve won 29 straight, posted back-to-back undefeated seasons, and have won 10 straight since a March 18 loss to Greater Spokane League’s Lewis and Clark.
It wasn’t easy as the Blackhawks faced obstacles at Clarkston other than the Bantams themselves. Head coach Mark Kiver said they essentially played a doubleheader, with the varsity waiting to play until after the junior varsity had finished their game, instead of playing both games at the same time at different fields.
Clarkston’s field is small, narrow and rough, making for unusual bounces and difficult possessions on the pitch. And, it was their Senior Day.
“That being said, we didn’t play to the potential that we could’ve,” Kiver said. “In the end though, we really didn’t give them any opportunities. We played solid defense and everybody that went down played. We got out of it what we needed.”
Kiver said the Blackhawks were also a little out of focus getting off the bus at Clarkston, something that wasn’t the case Thursday at Pullman. Weller gave Cheney a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute by knocking home a goal after the Greyhounds failed to clear a crossing shot out of the 6-yard box, and Carson Lamphere did the same one minute later on a Cheney corner kick – sending the ball into the net with “authority.”
Cheney could’ve gone up 3-0 not long after that, Kiver said, when Cruz Galm had a look on a one-on-one opportunity but couldn’t get a touch on the ball ahead of the sliding Pullman goalkeeper.
But in the second half, Cheney failed to clear a ball out of the box, and the Greyhounds capitalized with a goal in the 52nd minute, giving confidence to a team Kiver said appeared to have given up. Five minutes later Pullman tied it off a corner kick, making two of the three shots they took the entire game.
“Three shots and two of them go in,” Kiver said. “That shouldn’t happen.”
After the end of regulation and two five minute overtimes, Lamphere, Ian Schmandel, Trevan Estrellado and Weller all scored in the shootout while Pullman’s first shot hit the crossbar and goalkeeper Joe Scott made a save on the fourth for the win. Cheney out shot Pullman 15-3.
Cheney goes to 13-2 overall, and with the win now awaits the outcome of the Colville-West Valley game Thursday. The Blackhawks host that winner Saturday, May 4.
Kiver said they approached the Pullman game as they would a do-or-die playoff game, getting mixed results but still finding a way into the win column.
“When you can squeeze it out on a bad day, that speaks a lot about the team,” Kiver said.
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.