'Hawks blitz 'Hounds, win third straight GNL title
The nine senior members of the Cheney High boys' soccer team pause to listen to remarks by head coach Mark Kiver before presenting their parents with flowers during Senior Day ceremonies last Thursday. The seniors are Irvin Quezuda, Ian Shirey, Micah Weller, Ian Schimandle, Trevan Estrellado, Nick Steele, Juan Lorenzo, Taylor Scharff and Nathan Passey.
Typically, rematches with title implications are much closer affairs.
In the boys soccer showdown Tuesday with Great Northern League-leading Cheney and second-place upset minded Pullman - not so much. The Blackhawks scored three quick, first half goals and despite Pullman's fierce offensive pressure at times, were never seriously threatened in winning their third consecutive regular-season title with a 6-1 win over the Greyhounds.
Both Ian Schimandle and Trevan Estrellado managed to get behind Pullman's back line on lofted balls, track down and possess the passes, and convert them into scores for a 3-0 lead 12 minutes into the game. Pullman countered with an offensive build up, and Mason Petrino headed in a nice right crossing pass that went just above the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Kam Galm.
Cheney quickly regained its margin, with Schimandle sending a free kick into the right corner of the net for a 4-1-halftime lead. Schimandle got his fourth goal in the 52nd minute, set up nicely by Nick Steele, and Cruz Galm capped things off with a hard-fought dribbling run from midfield for a goal in the 78th minute.
The title match was set up with a pair of wins last week for both schools. Pullman ran its winning streak to six with wins over Deer Park, 9-1, and Colville, 6-2, while the Blackhawks downed third-place West Valley 7-1 on the road Tuesday, and overcame the emotions and energy of Senior Day with a 3-0 win over visiting Clarkston Thursday.
"It's hard to say, but that was probably one of the most complete games of the year," head coach Mark Kiver said of the West Valley win.
Schimandle put Cheney up 2-0 with goals in the third and sixth minutes, the latter assisted by Estrellado. But they had to do some problem solving and adjusting when it became apparent the Eagles strategy was to have a player follow both around the pitch the entire game.
Kiver said they expected the Eagles to mark Schimandle closely, but were surprised somewhat when they also did the same to Estrellado.
That created two potential open spots on the field for Cheney to capitalize on, and to keep West Valley from packing the 18-yard box with players, Kiver kept Schimandle and Estrellado deeper than normal, having them make runs from midfield.
Estrellado connected on a goal in the 30th minute, assisted by Oliver Smith, and Micah Weller gave Cheney a 4-0 lead with a goal in the 51st minute.
But the Eagles cut that margin to 4-1 in the 60th minute on a goal by Chris Shannon. For Kiver, it was a good goal as the Blackhawks came out of halftime a little lethargic and the score refocused them, leading to scores by Caleb Prophet (62nd minute), Schimandle (64th minute) and Austin Bradley (68th minute) to ice the game.
Cheney out shot West Valley 17-3 with Galm making one save.
Thursday the energy and excitement of Senior Day was evident. The Blackhawks blistered the Bantams defense with shots at goal in the first half, playing most of the 40 minutes in Clarkston's defensive end of the field.
After a scoreless first half, Cheney settled down to play their game in the second, getting goals from Schimandle in the 42nd and 73rd minutes, assisted by Weller and Kelby Holland. The game's highlight came when junior varsity senior Nathan Passey scored his first varsity goal on a header in the 79th minute.
Cheney out shot Clarkston 15-1, with Galm making one save.
The Pullman win gives Cheney, 12-0, 13-1-2, not only the regular season title, but the No. 1 playoff seed, and opening round bye and home field advantage. It's also the 41st straight league win for the Blackhawks, who last lost April 14, 2011 - to Pullman.
The Blackhawks next play May 13 vs. the winner of the East Valley (No. 4) and Colville (No. 5) game this Saturday.
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.