Blackhawks hold off Toppenish 3-1
Estrellado scores twice, assists once, Cheney heads back to state
Cheney forward Ian Schmandel and Toppenish’s Fili Jimenez track the ball during the first half of the Blackhawks 3-1 playoff win over the visiting Wildcats.
Forward Trevan Estrellado played a part in all three of Cheney’s goals while goalkeeper Joe Scott was solid defending the net as the Blackhawks topped a physical and skilled Toppenish team 3-1 Saturday. The win gives Cheney the No. 2 regional seed in the 2A state tournament and a game Wednesday, May 15, with Central Washington Athletic Conference third seed West Valley-Yakima.
“We’re on track,” Blackhawks head coach Mark Kiver said. “We’re doing semi-what we want.”
The two schools have met twice the past two seasons, both in the playoffs. Last year Cheney earned a hard-fought 2-1 win over the Wildcats at Joe Albi Stadium to advance to the state final four, and this year’s match up was just as physical and just as intense.
In the 11th minute, Estrellado took a feed from midfielder Micah Weller, caught Wildcats’ goalkeeper Oliver Sanchez out of line and chipped a shot over him into goal for a 1-0 lead. In the 37th minute Estrellado played a free kick from about 30-35 yards out towards the right post and a charging Ian Shirey who headed home the pass for a 2-0 advantage.
But Toppenish stepped things up and caught Cheney in a brief let down soon after. The Wildcats got behind the defense and into Scott, one player pulling on the senior’s jersey and preventing him from getting back in line, enabling Jose Chavez to score from about eight yards just before half.
In the final 40 minutes the Wildcats definitely upped their attack, or in Kiver’s words, “came flying at us.” Toppenish managed build ups in front of Cheney’s goal, with Scott making key saves including one where he leaped up high and punched the ball out with his fist about 30 yards rather than trying to possess it.
In the 58th minute, Estrellado provided some insurance, again possessing a pass from Weller and knocking in the goal from about 10 yards out in the middle of the field. From there the Blackhawks controlled the ball, with Weller helping kill the clock by possessing the ball and holding off Toppenish defenders, often forcing them to kick the ball out of bounds trying to gain possession.
Cheney out shot Toppenish 10-9 with Scott making five saves. The Blackhawks could have had more offensively, missing on several opportunities including a penalty kick by Maka Kauwe that Sanchez made an excellent stop on.
Kiver felt the Blackhawks were lucky to get Toppenish when they did. The Wildcats were one of the top three teams in the CWAC over the course of the season, but lost a couple heartbreakers late, including a 1-0 shootout to West Valley-Yakima that knocked them into the sub-regional seeding game.
“They’re a good team,” Kiver said. “Like I told them when we were going through shaking hands, ‘you’re too good to be going home early.’”
It was a breakout game for Estrellado, who Kiver said was going through a funk in goal scoring that created doubts about his ability. The junior asked him what he needed to do to get goals, and Kiver said they tried to keep reassuring him that all players go through this and that he was still contributing.
It also helped that Toppenish marked forward Ian Schmandel very close defensively because of the junior’s three-goal performance against East Valley, opening up opportunities for Estrellado to re-establish himself.
“That says a lot about us,” Kiver said. “You can’t do that and not get bit because of our options.”
Cheney (16-2) hosted West Valley-Yakima (13-4-1) Wednesday, with the winner advancing to face the winner of the other state first round game between No. 1 seed Grandview and No. 4 East Valley.
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.