Blackhawks run CWAC gauntlet, return to state soccer Final Four
Wins over West Valley-Yakima, No. 1 seed Grandview seal Cheney’s fifth trip in six years
Blackhawks’ forward Ian Shirey battles West Valley-Yakima’s Austin Stromme for possession of the ball Thursday.
When it comes to making hotel reservations for the 2A state boys soccer Final Four next weekend, Cheney High head coach Mark Kiver has it easier than many other teams.
“I called the hotel and they said, ‘yeah, we already had you penciled in,’” Kiver said Sunday night.
The Blackhawks earned their second straight appearance in the Final Four, fifth in the last six years, with wins over Central Washington Athletic Conference foes last week in the first two state rounds. Cheney got some last minute heroics in a 2-1 win over West Valley-Yakima at home Thursday, and followed with their best defensive performance of the season to shutout Grandview 2-0 on the road Saturday.
“On the biggest stage, these guys are getting it done,” Kiver said.
Particularly at CWAC tournament champion and regional No. 1 seed Grandview (16-4), where the ingredients were ripe for a Cheney loss. First, the Greyhounds wanted to play Friday, due to a Saturday community run, but kept with the Saturday date after Cheney declined to play back-to-back games in 24 hours.
Grandview then tried to change the start time to morning from the original 1 p.m., but settled for noon after Kiver said he wouldn’t go any earlier. And with that time, the Blackhawks boarded the bus at 6:30 a.m. for a long, three-and-a-half-hour trip.
“There were a lot of things in their (Grandview) favor,” Kiver said. “The guys, they went down there and did everything they needed to do, and did it right.”
The Blackhawks got a build up in the Greyhounds’ end in the 32nd minute, and after a throw in from the right side towards the goal, senior Daniel Bogaert found the ball bouncing his way out of the pack. The senior possessed it and hit a “beautiful shot” along the ground and into the net from just outside the 18 to give Cheney what would eventually prove to be the game winner.
In the 60th minute Bogaert hit midfielder Micah Weller, who connected for a goal that gave Cheney some breathing room. Cheney out shot Grandview 17-11 with Joe Scott making eight saves, including a key save on a penalty kick that hit the left post and dropped behind him – with the senior rolling over to smother the ball before it could possibly bounce off him into goal.
To get to Saturday, the Blackhawks had to overcome a defensive-minded West Valley-Yakima team that played with four defenders and three defensive midfielders. Cheney still found a way through, missing on several early opportunities and finally scoring when Ian Schmandel passed inside the 18 to Bogaert, who in turn fired a lateral pass to Trevan Estrellado who headed home the goal in the 18th minute.
The score almost stood for the win, until the Rams’ Brady Bendell tied the game with a goal in the 72nd minute. Seven minutes later with regulation winding to a close, a Cheney corner kick resulted in the ball being deflected several times near the goal and bouncing out to sophomore defender Cruz Galm, who possessed it just inside the 18 and knocked home the winning goal.
Cheney out shot West Valley-Yakima 14-6 with Scott making four saves.
Cheney (18-2) enters the state semifinals with a 15-game winning streak, the last loss coming March 18 against 4A Lewis and Clark, 2-0. They’ll face an opponent they’ve faced before, albeit four years ago – Ridgefield.
The Spudders (18-3-1) visited Cheney in the state opening round in 2009, losing 1-0. Ridgefield, in Clark County of southwest Washington, has been to state tournaments 12 times, according to a story in the Columbian, the last in 2012, finishing fourth at 1A. They’ve lost a pair of 2A state title games in 2005 and 2006, both times to Waluke, and are coming off a little magic having beaten state-tournament favorite Bellingham 1-0 in the quarterfinals last Saturday, the only time this season Bellingham has been shut out.
Kiver said they don’t know much about the Spudders, but added every team still playing this late in the season is doing so at a high level with talent, including the Blackhawks.
“They’re getting tighter as a team,” Kiver said. “It’s all coming together now.”
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.