Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bigfoot look to take another big step forward Saturday in playoff opener

CC Spokane Bigfoot celebrate winning the East Division | Photos: Gerald Barnhart (gallery)
On Saturday, the NWAACC’s second-best team on paper begins its playoff campaign in the league quarterfinals when the CC Spokane Bigfoot play host to Whatcom CC, the second-place side from the North Division, at Spokane Falls Community College. The winner advances to the NWAACC Final Four the following weekend in Tukwila, WA at 1:30 pm.

Wednesday Training (gallery)
After training Wednesday afternoon, CC Spokane head coach Jim Martinson, seeing one of his players trudge to her car with her legs packed in ice, remarked about how the Bigfoot have battled through the current season plagued by injury.

That statement tells you a lot about the character, quality and depth of the team when you look at the table and see they were, despite the adversity, the second best offense in the league and finished 13-1-2. Their only defeat came at the hands of the 15-1-0 Peninsula side, 3-2 on the road, and the two draws were with division and league powerhouse Walla Walla.

With their 7-0 victory against third-place Treasure Valley Saturday, Spokane ended the nine-year reign of the Warriors, who have reached the NWAACC final the last seven years and are the current three-time champions. It was the first time the Sasquatch sat atop the East table at the close of the season since 1997.

“I’ve been here, 12th season with the women, and I have been trying to win the East for a long time,” said Martinson. “It’s nice to get that out of the way, but we’ve got three more games though. Got to get those done, but it feels nice to win the East.”

Knowing Walla Walla was poised to pounce on any slip-up sitting two points back and playing the league’s worst side, the Bigfoot ladies were amped to take care of business Saturday and jumped out to a two goal lead just 12 minutes in on a cold and wet afternoon with strikes from Alli Floyd and Jamie Krediet. Not wanting to leave any doubt, they added two more via Lateashea Currie and Floyd in the first seven minutes of the second half, allowing them to enjoy themselves en route to the claiming the East title.

Floyd celebrates championship
“I gotta give it to the girls today,” Martinson said after the game. “They wanted to win, and they weren’t going to keep it close.”

“As far as the region goes, it’s a little bit down on our side this year,” Martinson said when asked about the two-horse race in the East. “CBC was down; obviously Wenatchee and Yakima were down, and Treasure Valley battled a little bit and got that third spot.”

Spokane’s 89 goals this season was only dwarfed by Peninsula’s tally of 107 for the year and was a good 17 better than Walla Walla, who had the league’s third highest tally. The fourth-best offensive output in the league was the 50 Treasure Valley rang up.

A seven-goal win against a division opponent was not exactly out of the ordinary for the Bigfoot, or for Walla Walla for that matter, with the depth of the division being thin this season, but both did well throughout the year against opposition in the current playoff field. Spokane had the third-best record against the playoff field (4-1-3) behind Peninsula (8-1-0) and Clackamas (6-3-0) based on points per game with Walla Walla not too far behind at 4-2-3.

Saturday’s opponent, Whatcom was fourth on the list at 4-2-2. They were 3-0 winners Wednesday in the opening round against Bellevue, whom the Bigfoot defeated 4-1 earlier this season. The only result against a common opponent was a 5-0 victory in the season opener in non-league play against Treasure Valley.

Tash Anderson, Walla Walla
“You make the playoffs early in the season mathematically and it’s kind of a situation where you get in that hurry up and wait mode,” Martinson said. “The girls are rolling right now; they are playing well. I don’t think they have quite peaked yet so everything is going the way we need it to go – we’re real excited… yeah, very excited.”

Walla Walla dominated in the opening round, getting goals from four different players in a 4-0 victory against visiting Clark. Marais Hicks scored the lone goal in the first half, but an assist and goal from Peyton Moon in less than a minute around the 74-minute mark pushed the match out of reach. Treasure Valley were 3-0 losers at Lane. 

Walla Walla moves on to face the North’s top seed Everett Saturday on the road. It is the second meeting between the two sides this year with the Warriors narrowly winning the season opener at Starfire in the preseason friendlies tournament, 1-0, on a goal from Tash Anderson. Everett finished 11-2-2 on the year and are one of the two division champions that finished with fewer points on the year than Walla Walla.

AROUND THE WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT: On Walla Walla’s half of the bracket, Lane moved on to face Peninsula in the other quarterfinal contest. On the other side of Spokane’s half of the bracket, Shoreline was the only third-place side to move on from the opening round, posting a narrow 1-0 decision Wednesday on a strike in the 88th minute against Highline. The victory, however, was arguably expected as Highline was winless on the year against the playoff field.

NWAACC MEN :: Spokane falls, Columbia Basin advances

In the men’s tournament, CC Spokane (6-5-2) was knocked out in the opening round in controversial fashion in a 2-1 loss at Chemeketa (10-1-2) while second-place Columbia Basin (6-4-3) won a 5-3 thriller against Pierce (6-7-0).

Wyatt Brown scored both goals for the hosts against the Bigfoot, but the second came with disagreement from the visitors, who felt the penalty was wrongly awarded for a fair shoulder-to-shoulder challenge inside the box.

Jorge Campos, Columbia Basin
Down in Pasco, however, it was truly a wild one. The hosts took a stunning three-goal lead 13 minutes in. Jesse Esquival scored in the first minute of play and Jorge Campos doubled the lead three minutes later and added a second in the 13th. Richard Renteria set up the opener and Campos’ second.

Pierce cut into the lead in the 18th and stood strong two goals down the rest of the half before closing the gap in the second half with two more strikes in the 59th and 74th minutes.

But just as quickly as the game started, the game ended at the hands of CBC, who reclaimed the lead through Ivan Barragan in the 86th and secured the win with some insurance in the 90th with Campos completing the hat-trick.

CBC faces Edmonds (9-2-2), the top seed in the North, in the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Chemeketa moved on to play Peninsula in the other half of the bracket.

East champion Walla Walla (9-1-3) kicks off their postseason campaign in the quarterfinals against Tacoma, the lone third-place team to advance from the opening round with a 1-0 victory against Whatcom.  On the other side of the bracket South champion Clark plays Highline, who were 3-0 winners against Everett in the opening round.