Saturday, November 17, 2012

Big block sends Bigfoot onto NWAACC Final

Currie surrounded after scoring winning tally | Photo: Gerald Barnhart (photo gallery)
It was about as one-sided as a semifinal match could be Saturday morning at the Starfire Sports Complex as the East champion CC Spokane Bigfoot squared off against Clackamas in the first semifinal of the day, but it came down to a 90th minute Lateashea Currie strike created by a Tasha Luu block in the offensive third as the Sasquatch advanced, 1-0. The Bigfoot will face Peninsula, 3-1 winners against Everett, in the championship in Tukwila, Wash. Sunday at 3:00 pm PT. 

The 12-2-0 South champions brought the league’s top defensive into the contest shutout wins in six of their last seven games, including last week’s 1-0 overtime victory in the quarterfinals. 

“We knew Clackamas was defensive; they’ve only given up seven goals all season, given up three goals in, gosh, the last five weeks,” said Bigfoot head coach Jim Martinson. “We knew scoring - even with the firepower we have up front - we knew scoring would be difficult. 

“They never stopped, we never stopped working. We never stopped attacking and finally they got the one. And I think they deserved it. I think we were the better team today.” 

The Cougars gave respect to the Spokane attack right from the start with the Sasquatch holding nearly 80-90 percent of the possession. But CCS was finding few quality opportunities to put a good ball on frame. The defensive approach, though, severely limited Clackamas’ odds in finding a win as they few forays into the other end were easily handled by Spokane’s back line led by Sarah Nanny. The Cougars did not have a shot until the final minute of the first half, a long effort from outside the box that Asia Porter calmly gathered at the right post. 

Spokane, meanwhile, controlled the ball with ease in the offensive half, but could only find a couple good looks in the first half. In the 21st minute Rainey Pelzel went on a great run after gathering the ball at midfield, working past three Cougars before juking past the right back for an open look on the left side, but the 16 yard effort went right to the keeper. 

Three minutes before the break Gaby Kennedy let loose a shot from about 25 yards out in the center of the pitch that nearly snuck in at the right post only to see the keeper get to it. 

The second half brought a few changes. Along with the cool sprinkling rain coming down a bit more accompanied by an increased wind, Clackamas began to find a little more possession, though it ultimately only led to one more shot for a total of two for the game. 

Spokane, meanwhile, was finding more opportunities from set pieces and nearly scored on back-to-back corner kicks midway through the half. 

The chief change in the second half, though, was the physical nature that Clackamas brought as several Sasquatch players were leveled with hard tackles. 

Luu survived this tackle, later made key play
The second half departure of Alli Floyd, though, came when the midfielder, who has been nursing knee injuries, came down awkwardly from a header. The loss of Floyd, however, proved to be a turn of fortune as Martinson would push Luu, who had been the midfield general throughout the contest, up top with Currie. A move that proved to be critical in finding the victory. 

With the clock winding down the final seconds of the 90th minute before stoppage time began, an unchallenged Clackamas defender casually went to knock a long ball up the field, but Luu, drifted out to the right, stuck her left leg out high and blocked the low line drive. The ricochet curled into the middle toward the penalty spot, creating a race between the keeper and Currie, who narrowly put it past the keeper as she dove at her feet, sending the Spokane bench and fans into a frenzy. 

“That’s soccer sometimes,” said Martinson. “I think everything they do up to that point work-wise, all the good stuff they did; however it happens to get Lateashea in the box there, we’ll take it. She finished it - she had pressure on her and she got it.”

It was all just a blur for Currie, the league’s leading striker and East MVP. 

Victory was sweet revenge for Currie
“That was Tasha? I didn’t even know,” she said of how the unexpected ball came her way. “I don’t know, it bounced off and I just was running onto it, and all I saw was all net, white and then a blur - I guess that was the keeper. I just was telling myself ‘left, right, left, right - which one am I gonna shoot to’ and I picked the right, and it went in somehow.”

How she scored though meant little compared to avenging the team’s elimination two years prior at the hands of Clackamas via a penalty kick tiebreaker after a 2-2 draw in which she scored both goals in her program record-setting season for goals. 

“It has been a very long three years for me,” said the new mother, who missed last year to pregnancy. “My first year, actually, we were playing Clackamas and did the same thing. It went down to overtime - couldn’t score, couldn’t score; went into pks. We couldn’t finish and they beat us in pks so, this was my revenge and we got ‘em and I am so satisfied, so happy.

“The championship, I’ve been wanting this; I have been dreaming about this I just want me and my team to get the championship, number one. I don’t care how we do it, I don’t care who scores, I don’t care how it goes it, but one of us has to put it in. Like today, we had 16 shots and they had two. We’ll take it - anyway, anyhow.”

The enjoyment of the moment has certainly made the sacrifices of the past season worth the tribulations of balancing school, soccer and motherhood the past few months. 

“It was hard. It was hard traveling without her, trying to focus on the games and thinking ‘what is the baby doing.’ She’s with her dad, is she having fun. It’s just hard having a baby and playing.” 


In the second NWAACC Semifinal, Peninsula took the lead on a first half Briana Afoa penalty kick and doubled the advantage in the first minute of  the second half when Ashlyn Frizzelle put away a bouncing ball in the six. 

They pushed it to three on a nice play in the 58th minute. The chance started out on the left side of the box and was worked through the middle just outside the six with a series of passes under pressure, drawing the keeper out prematurely and leaving an open net on the right side of the scrum for Afoa to knock home.

In the 78th minute Christina Jarvis provided some hope of a comeback for Everett, who knocked out the defending three-time champion Walla Walla last week, but it was all they could muster. 

The results sends Peninsula back to the championship game for a second consecutive year after falling narrowly, 1-0, to the Warriors a year ago. The contest with Spokane creates a rematch of their inter-divisional league meeting at the end of September which the Pirates took 3-2. 

Jordan Dinneen scored the opening tally three minutes into the match to give the Pirates the lead at home. Rainey Pelzel evened terms in the 28th for Spokane. Emilia Stefanko reclaimed the advantage with another quick strike early in the second half four minutes in and then found Shelbi Vienna-Hallam 10 minutes later for what proved to be the game-winner as Currie pulled one back for Spokane in the 67th. 

NWAACC Men Semifinals: Walla Walla defeated Highline, 3-2, in the first semifinal and will face Peninsula for the championship Sunday evening. After knocking out one of the two unbeatens, Clark, the week before, the West’s second seed gave Walla Walla a tough test, going in front after 27 minutes on a goal from Cole Madden. The East champs, however, found an equalizer via Max Smith four minutes before the break and took the lead on a strike from Jonathan Rodriguez in the 57th. Highline didn’t back down though, bringing things back to level through John Monroy in the 65th. With overtime looming Jhony Mendoza secured the victory for the Warriors with the winning strike off a free kick. Peninsula, the other 12-0-1 side this season, took the second semifinal of the night, dropping Edmonds, 2-0, to reach the final. Alex Martinez scored in the 32nd minute and turned provider in the second half, finding Jake Forrester for some insurance in the 67th.