April 3, 2014 | 117 50

Cheney stays perfect in GNL soccer play chools

Blackhawks' hope wins this week at Clarkston, Pullman send them into much needed spring break in first place

Next week's spring break isn't coming soon enough for the Cheney boys' soccer team.

John McCallum
Freshman midfielder Kelby Holland battles a pair of West Valley players for ball possession Saturday.

The team's first couple weeks of the season have been challenging, helped not only by a busy schedule - including four non-league games with Greater Spokane League 4A schools - but also injuries leaving them short-handed at times. Despite the challenges the Blackhawks continued their strong start by going 2-0-1 in three games last week.

Cheney wrapped up its non-league slate by battling GSL's Lewis and Clark to a 2-2 tie last Monday at Joe Albi Stadium. The Blackhawks' two Ians - Schimandle and Shirey - notched Cheney's points, Schimandle giving the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead in the fifth minute, assisted by Noah Holland, and Shirey knotting the game at 2 in the 55th minute, assisted by Trevan Estrellado. LC out shot Cheney 10-8, with goalkeeper Kam Galm making six saves.

Thursday the Blackhawks traveled to East Valley to take on the Knights (1-3 Great Northern League, 1-4 overall, 4 points) in a game delayed by lightning and played after 3/4 inches of hail had turned the field virtually to ice, conditions head coach Mark Kiver said favor opponents by impacting Cheney's ball-control, possession game.

Cheney's defense withstood several early scoring opportunities, including one shot from about six yards out that went just over the crossbar. Kiver told the players to look to take more shots from long distance, advice that paid off.

In the 25th minute, Estrellado sent a low, ground-hugging shot at goal from about 22 yards that the Knights goalkeeper stopped, bobbled and slipped under his hands and across the line for the game's only score. The Blackhawks tried to create separation late in the game with several good scoring chances, including three shots from virtual pointblank range stopped by EV's goalkeeper.

Cheney out shot EV 14-5 with Galm making a pair of saves.

"We're getting stronger and stronger defensively," Kiver said. "What we do to limit other teams is starting to show."

That was evident Saturday at home against West Valley (3-2, 3-4, 8 points). Cheney out shot the Eagles 19-3, with those three opportunities coming on Cheney mistakes.

Schimandle drew first blood, chasing down a ball along the right side, turning the corner and dribbling to within four yards where he right-footed a shot into the net three minutes into the contest. The senior gave Cheney a 2-0 lead on a score from the left side about 20 yards out, assisted by Estrellado, seven minutes later.

Estrellado put Cheney up 3-0 in the 33rd minute, possessing the ball near the top of the 18-yard box and dribbling past several defenders for a score from about eight yards out. Schimandle got his third goal in the 77th minute icing the 4-0 win.

Before the break, the Blackhawks (4-0, 5-1-2, 12 points) have a pair of long road trips, traveling to Clarkston to face the Bantams (1-2, 1-5, 3 points) Tuesday and turning around 48 hours later to head to Pullman (4-0, 6-1, 12 points) Thursday.

Despite their record, the Bantams present challenges with a small field they know well and a couple good players. If Cheney can win, and Pullman knocks off Colville Tuesday, the two will battle for sole possession of the GNL's top spot.

The Blackhawks would like to head into break in that position, but it will be an earned respite nonetheless, with no contests scheduled until April 15. Cheney is beginning to heal, helping some players to move back into their normal positions.

"We don't like to take too many days off, lose some of that rhythm," Kiver said. "(But) I think it's going to be a much deserved rest."

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

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