Blackhawks beat heat, opponents' intensity to win District 7 crown
Schmandel leads Cheney to 4-1 win over East Valley in title game
Cheney defender Cruz Galm battles East Valley forward Adam Talley for the ball.
A hat trick by junior Ian Schmandel helped power the Cheney boys’ soccer team past East Valley 4-1 and to their second consecutive District 7 title in 80-degree temperatures Tuesday, earning them a No. 1 seed to sub-regional play with the Central Washington Athletic Conference.
The Blackhawks never trailed as Micah Weller got them on the board first in the 20th minute on a nifty, virtually back-to-the-net shot the junior right-foot-hooked in from about six yards out. But after that it was Schmandel and friends.
In the 32nd minute the junior possessed a 50-50 ball about 40 yards out, dribbled in and around the East Valley defense and launched a shot from just outside the 18 that made it 2-0. The Blackhawks had a brief let down before half, and East Valley exploited it as Aaron Hilfiker found Hartwig Bondo on the left side of the box and the junior knocked a shot to the right of a diving Joe Scott for the score.
Head coach Mark Kiver urged his troops to protect the lead during the break and they did the best way possible – by attacking and scoring. Tad Tinker came off the bench and in the 60th minute, bolted up the right side and passed into the middle to Schmandel, who sent in his second goal from about 8 yards.
Schmandel’s final score came in the 74th minute as he dribbled down near the left end line, turned, went in and around East Valley defenders, got in front of the net, reversed one way and back the other for a 4-foot goal and final margin.
“He played great,” Kiver said of Schmandel. “He had a little slump there in the season like all players do. We worked on picking up his psyche and we saw it against West Valley and in practice. Today, he just really showed it.”
Cheney out shot East Valley 18-10 with Scott making six saves. Kiver also pointed to the play of bench players like Tinker, Oliver Smith and others as key to the win as well.
To get to Tuesday’s seeding game Cheney had to overcome a focused fifth-seeded West Valley team on Saturday brimming with confidence from its first-round win over fourth-seeded Colville, their first win over the Indians this season. The Eagles got the Blackhawks off their game plan in the first half, packing the defensive middle and creating frustration.
“We knew both teams were going to fight because it’s a going-home game,” Kiver said.
A fairly stiff breeze at Cheney’s back didn’t help either as the Blackhawks aren’t a team that “plays in the air” – preferring ball possession over long kicks – and the wind seemed to give some added power and bounces even to balls not lofted up.
Kiver said they talked during halftime about weathering West Valley’s intensity and finishing opportunities while playing smarter and taking advantage of numbers on build-ups before the Eagles could recoup defensively.
That paid off quickly in the second half on Cheney’s first possession. Nick Steele dribbled down near the baseline left of the goal, turned back against the defense and passed inside to Schmandel who punched in a bouncing shot from just inside the 6 for a 1-0 lead 45 seconds into the second half.
In the 48th minute, Trevan Estrellado sent a 20-yard pass inside the 6 to Steele, who fought off a defender to drill Cheney’s second goal into the upper left side of the net. Two minutes later, Estrellado hooked up with Schmandel, who sent his second goal home from about 14 yards out, and the Blackhawks kept West Valley from any serious final offensive threats for a 3-0 win.
Cheney out shot West Valley 15-6 with Scott making four saves.
With the wins the Blackhawks move to 15-2 on the year and advance to a Saturday match up at home against the CWAC, team, game time and site to be determined. The Blackhawks will be tested, and Kiver said they have work to do physically and mentally to get prepared not only for their opponent, but playing in warmer temperatures.
“I think we will, we’ll do fine,” he said.
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.