Sunday, September 28, 2014

Wenatchee Valley men win clash of East contenders after Spokane women dominate Knights

Fourteen goals, but two completely different stories | Photos: Gerald Barnhart
It was a tale of two completely different games in Saturday night's doubleheader at Spokane Falls Community College featuring host CC Spokane and visiting Wenatchee Valley CC. The Sasquatch ladies thoroughly dominated the opposition to the tune of an 8-0 scoreline in the opening game. The men's contest was a dramatic back-and-forth affair featuring a pair of teams jockeying for position near the top of the division table. The Knights saw a two-goal lead disappear before getting two in the final minutes for the big road victory.


The visitors led by two after 20 minutes, but needed a pair of goals in the final eight minutes to secure the victory and remain tied for the East lead after a fantastic rally from the Bigfoot. Josh Alvarez scored twice for the Knights and Alex Opland (Rathdrum, (ID) provided both for the Spokane.

The Knights came out aggressive on the road and held much of the attacking possession in the early going, and it paid off 15 minutes into the contest when a ball played into the box pinged around a bit before Enrique Vargas (Okanogan, WA) put it away for the lead.

They doubled the advantage on a nice series of play five minutes later that started with a throw-in at midfield. They worked it up the left sideline with a few passes before Jose Casillas (Wenatchee, WA) launched a perfect ball from the touchline to the top center of the area where Alvarez headed a perfect ball inside the upper portion of the far right post out of the keeper's reach.

Caught in a corner, the Bigfoot punched back, literally scoring out of the corner in the 32nd minute on a set piece. Mario Zarate (Richland, WA) sent his corner to the back post where Opland struck a full-volley effort home.

Then, merely 25 seconds into the second half the Sasquatch evened matters when Opland received the ball from Crisantos Chavez (Mabton, WA) at the top of the box and buried it.

From there the two sides battled hard, each coming closer and closer to finding the winner all the while getting a bit more physical and heated as the evening and chill in the air progressed.

It fell apart though with a bit of misfortunate in the 82nd minute though for Spokane. An inadvertent handball at the edge of the area led to a free kick that proved costly. The initial attempt on the set piece went straight into the wall, but immediately caromed back out to Alvarez, who launched a perfect shot into the far upper right corner of the goal for what stood as the winner.

"He doesn't plan on slowing down," Wenatchee Valley CC coach Peter Osborn said of his star striker. "He's always begging me to put him back in when I pull him off, and I like it."

Both teams exchanged great opportunities in the span of seconds at the end of the 40th and start of the 41st, but with Spokane pressing and stoppage time slipping away the Knights delivered the death blow when they worked the ball in through the right side of the area via Tyler Miller (Wenatchee, WA), who found Mauricio Perez (East Wenatchee, WA) ßfor the insurance tally.

"The boys kept it up and they kept the ball moving. That's something they have done all year; they've had a habit of coming back... something that I'm not happy about," Osborn said, referring to the issue of trailing. The Knights came into the game having found themselves behind in four of their last five, but rallying for a draw and two wins in three of them.

The Knights, however, never trailed Saturday in Spokane and controlled a good portion of the contest.

"I'm proud of em. They've got heart and tenacity; they don't quit until 90 minutes is up. Spokane is probably one of the best teams we've faced so far, and we haven't beat them in years, so it was big for me - first year coach - to come out and make a statement. Just proud of these boys."

The result was a rarity for Wenatchee Valley, which now has just as many league wins this season as the last four years combined. The Knights had not passed the three-win plateau since their 11-3-4 season in 2008. Over that five-year span WVCC boasted just one win (2-1 on Oct 29, 2011) and one draw (1-1 on Oct 10, 2011) against the Bigfoot, losing the last four by a combined 12-1 scoreline since that last win three years ago.

"We've lost one, we tied one against Clark. They are really tough in the South Division. This is the sixth win and its the best start that we've had in nine years, eight years I think. I keep saying it again; give them the glory. They are just killing it, and we just feed off the momentum. We got North Idaho next, probably the best team we'll face next to Peninsula.  We'll see what we can do against them, but it's looking up. Just gotta keep winning, and not get done if we get a tie or a loss."

In addition to Alvarez, coach Olson spoke positively about a few other players contributing to the program's turnaround this season. Midfielder Hernan Mendoza (East Wenatchee, WA) "works his butt off, runs around - he's a maniac on the field;" and standout defender Juan Rodriguez-Fuentes (East Wenatchee, WA) were among those mentioned. "They just work well together, and those are our leaders. They pulled together and got the result that we wanted."


Photo Gallery [+]
The Bigfoot everyone was used to seeing came out of the shadows Saturday evening for a romp against the Knights. Rashelle Fisher had a goal and two assists in the first 40 minutes as she continually created problems for the back line, and Sarah Melvin (Spokane, WA) finished the game with a hat-trick.

And it didn't take long either.

At the close of the second minute of play, a poor goal kick that only reached about 25 yards 6-7 yards out of the area was collected by Fisher, who worked her way through defenders before scoring from about 14 yards.

A ball over the top of the defense put Makenzie Welch (Meridian, ID) on a break, but the opportunity was denied by goalkeeper Shawnee Covington (Omak, WA), who came out with a sliding one-on-one challenge to disrupt the shot from about 13 yards.

Eight minutes later, though, another lackluster goal kick led to another dangerous turnover resulting in a goal. This time Fisher fed a through ball up the middle of the defense, putting Melvin on a break for a 16-yard strike in the 28th minute.

Less than 30 seconds later, the kick-off immediately found its way into the Bigfoot's possession with Lexi Miller (Pasco, WA) connecting with Maddie Brown (Greenleaf, ID) up the right side where she fired a soaring shot from about eight yards off the outer corner of the area that slipped in under the crossbar.

Fisher & Melvin celebrate
Melvin (pictured above) rounded out the scoring for the half in the 38th minute when a throw-in at midfield was quickly worked into the middle and played forward to her by Fisher. She beat a defender to the outer left corner of the area and then nailed a shot in off the underside of the crossbar.

The scoring continued with another early goal in the second half when a corner from Sydni Thomas (Greenacres, WA) was bodied in at the near post by Brittany Bruegeman (Spokane, WA).

Melvin completed her hat-trick in the 65th on Fisher's third assist of the night. "Mini" took the ball deep down the right side of the area and sent the ball into the six. Angling slightly toward goal, the keeper dove backward trying to make a save, but instead it flew over her and onto the path of the onrushing Melvin for the open-net finish.

Well in hand and with many reserves getting playing time, the hosts added two more as the game wrapped up. Serena Robertson (Richland, WA) set up Welch with 10 minutes left and Halie Gronenthal (Spokane, WA) in the 88th.

The victory put Spokane back atop the East Division table at 7-1-1 by one point over Treasure Valley (7-1-0), who moved in front with a win Wednesday as Spokane drew 1-1 at Walla Walla. The next closest is unbeaten North Idaho College (3-0-6), who played to yet another tie, 0-0 at Columbia Basin College, Saturday.