Lady Hawks lose close games to West Valley, Clarkston
Haley Dixon (3) battles a West Valley player for the ball.
It may not seem like it from the results, but Cheney girls soccer head coach Nils Radtke believes the Lady Hawks are getting better.
Cheney ran its losing streak to five games with close losses last week at home to West Valley and on the road at Clarkston, losses that with a favorable bounce or two here and there might have turned into wins.
Tuesday the Eagles Halie Gronenthal provided the offensive punch with goals in the fourth minute and with four minutes left in the game in West Valley’s 2-0 win. Thursday it was Clarkston’s Kate Sly, who converted a free kick in the 12th minute that the defense made stand in the Bantam’s 1-0 win. In both cases, Radtke said the Lady Hawks had some early chances to score but couldn’t capitalize.
“We were right there with West Valley,” he said of the game with the league-leading Eagles. “Both goals were from 35-40 yards out and they were just great shots.”
At Clarkston, Cheney had a couple early chances as well, including a corner kick before Sly’s goal. After that, the Bantams essentially relied on their defense, packing their box and making it tough for Cheney to find any clear openings.
“They were two losses we needed wins for, but in the overall picture, we’re getting better,” Radtke said. “The girls are frustrated, but they’re also optimistic that we’re going to get ‘em.”
West Valley (7-1, 5-1, 16 points) out shot Cheney 6-3 with goalkeeper Paige Lewis making four saves. Against Clarkston (4-2, 4-2, eight points) the Lady Hawks were out shot 9-4, with goalkeeper Nicole Rowley making three saves.
With the losses Cheney falls to fifth place in the Great Northern League standings at 2-3, 3-5 overall with six points. The Lady Hawks continue a stretch of five straight games on the road, traveling to third-place Pullman (3-2, 4-2, nine points) Tuesday and then to Deer Park Thursday for the start of the second run through league where they will face a Stags team that’s winless in league and 1-7 overall.
Cheney wraps up their road trip with games Tuesday at Colville (1-4, 2-5, three points) and a non-league hookup under the lights Thursday at Ephrata before finally returning home for three of their final four games. Radtke said the defense is playing much better and beginning to gel as a unit, enabling the Lady Hawks to change formations from a 4-5-1 configuration to a more offensive-minded 4-4-2.
Radtke said Pullman is well-coached, but is not having a “normal year,” leading him to believe they’re a young team that could get emotional should Cheney score early. The Lady Hawks have already seen Deer Park and Colville, edging the Stags 3-2 in overtime and scoring four second half goals to down the Indians 4-0.
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.