Hawks down Pullman for district's top-seed
Cheney defender Cruz Galm goes to the ground to prevent a Pullman player from gaining possession of the ball in the Blackhawks' 2-0 win over the visiting Greyhounds. The win gave Cheney the District 7 top seed to the state tournament.
Last Thursday's Cheney High boys soccer game with visiting Pullman went about the way Blackhawks head coach Mark Kiver expected a third match-up with a challenging league foe might go - difficult and contested right to the final whistle.
The state's top-ranked 2A team scored a goal in the 23rd minute, and got a stalwart defensive effort to make that stand en route to a 2-0 win over the 10th-ranked Greyhounds. The win gave Cheney (15-1-2) the No. 1 seed out of District 7 play to the upcoming state tournament, setting up a match up with Othello (15-5-0) this past Wednesday, May 21.
"It's hard to find different ways to get wins," Kiver said about facing an opponent for the third time in a season, especially one of Pullman's caliber.
Cheney created some potential goal-scoring opportunities early, but couldn't capitalize on them, and dodged a bullet on a missed free kick by Pullman in the 15th minute. In the 23rd minute, senior midfielder Trevan Estrellado saw reserve forward/midfielder Noah Prophet making a diagonal run from the outside at the Pullman goal and sent a pass his way. The freshman battled a larger Greyhound defender to win the ball around the 18-yard box and fired a shot past goalkeeper Will Pitzer for the score.
The game see-sawed from there, with both teams trading momentum and offensive build ups. Pullman appeared to score in the 74th minute when Blackhawks goalkeeper Kameron Galm had a ball escape his grasp, but the goal was overturned when the referee ruled the Cheney junior had been fouled by a Greyhound player.
Pullman pushed their 10 field players forward in the final minutes looking for the tying score, which opened up the defensive backfield. Cheney exploited the move in the 79th minute, clearing the ball from near their 18-yard box down the left sideline where a sprinting Ian Schimandle possessed it, evaded Pitzer and put the ball into the net to seal the win.
Cheney out shot Pullman 10-5, with Galm making five saves.
The win set up Wednesday's opening round state playoff game with Othello, who led the Central Washington Athletic Conference earlier this season, but lost several key games and had to fight from lower playoff seeds to secure the CWAC's No. 2 slot. The Blackhawks have faced the Huskies in the past, most recently a 2-1 win in 2012 in another opening round state playoff game.
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.