Cheney is no longer a boy's soccer bridesmaid
Schmandel's OT 'golden goal' lifts Blackhawks soccer to 2A state title
In the end, it took two kicks and four feet to ease the pain of four years of frustration for the Cheney High School boys' soccer team in the state 2A title game.
The first came from midfielder Micah Weller, who possessed a ball near the end of the first overtime last Saturday against Tyee, dribbled 15-20 yards before passing forward to forward/midfielder Ian Schmandel. The junior in turn dribbled ahead of the Totems' defender and fired a shot from near the 18-yard box that went through goalkeeper Alan Mora's hands and into the back of the net – giving the Blackhawks their first state championship in their fifth trip in the last six years to the title game.
"I was trying to actually, intentionally get the ball to (forward/midfielder) Trevan (Estrellado)," Weller said after finally breaking free of the mob of players and fans that stormed the field at Sunset Chev Stadium. "But then I saw they had two guys (on him) and Schmandel had a gap so I played it through the gap and he worked his magic like he always does."
Schmandel, who has created some fancy-footwork goal scoring for the Blackhawks including one in a semifinal win over Ridgefield the night before, was a little surprised by the goal and the outcome.
"I was trying to run inside and make a run, but I thought he was going to play Trevan and he just played a no look (to me)," he said. "When I saw the keeper touch the ball, I didn't think it was going in. I saw the ball rolling around in the back of the net and I was shocked, I had no idea it was going in. It's the greatest feeling in my life."
The goal gave Cheney its first title in a game that had everything – skilled, physical play on both sides of the ball and controversy. The Totems broke a scoreless tie when Liam Maginniss made a beautiful left-to-right crossing shot just past a diving Joe Scott in the 13th minute.
"This Tyee team was very, very skilled up front and they had a lot more weapons that we really had to watch out for, and that first goal they scored, that guy was phenomenal," Kiver said of the player who led the Totems with 26 goals. "We knew he was going to be a threat. We could have done a little better job defending him but basically, he did that all on his own."
The Blackhawks tied the game in the 30th minute on Weller's score from just outside the six-yard box on a play that began with a lot of confusion. Oliver Smith was on the ground with an apparent injury, and as a courtesy, the Totems kicked the ball out of bounds.
The officials gave no indication of a stoppage in play, however, and the ball was quickly played inbounds by Cheney and eventually forward to Weller, who as Tyee players stood and watched, dribbled towards goal and sent a one-on-one shot passed Mora tying the game.
"We were just trying to get our subs in, and everybody was yelling, trying to get their subs in and we just thought everybody was focusing on waiting for the subs to happen and the ball was thrown in and everybody was going, like, what's going on," Kiver said. "It was just a weird thing. But you play to the whistle."
Tyee protested the goal at halftime, which was extended by an extra 20 minutes, but in the end, game and Washington Officials Association officials, who said the referees were adamant they had not stopped play, upheld the goal.
In the second half the Blackhawks had several opportunities for a go-ahead goal, but missed just wide of the net. The Totems, from Sea-Tac, also had opportunities, especially late in the game but were thwarted not only on key plays by Scott but also by his teammates on several occasions when the senior goalkeeper got trapped away from the net, including a clearout with 24 seconds remaining in regulation.
Cheney advanced to the title game with a 3-0 win Friday night over Ridgefield. Schmandel delivered the eventual game-winner in the 31st minute, dribbling up the left sideline past the team benches, around several defenders and eventually Spudders goalkeeper Justin Stay for the goal.
Weller floated in a 35-yard shot about 35 seconds into the second half for a 2-0 lead, and Estrellado capped the scoring with a shot from just inside the 18 that Stay, diving to his left, appeared to stop but couldn't control. The Blackhawks had four other good opportunities to score, but shots either went high or just wide.
Cheney out shot Ridgefield 11-7, with Scott making two saves, but were out shot by Tyee 10-9, Scott with four saves.
Saturday's win not only ended Cheney's title game frustrations, but helps validate the status of the program.
"There are so many people following us that, alumni, friends and parents and everything, this is a special moment for us," Weller said as he headed to join teammates in receiving the championship trophy.
Asked what the win meant, Kiver had to pause a moment to gather his composure.
"The foundation that was laid for us to have our success that we do has been by players who have been through the program so we can't forget those guys," Kiver said. "And all the community support and everything, so it's a lot bigger, it's not just those guys and they realize it. They're playing for something even bigger."
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.