Monday, October 19, 2015

NWAC East Update: Spokane men tie rival Walla Walla 2-2, hold first with unbeaten week

Having recently moved into the top spot in a men's NWAC East Division that nobody seemed to want to take control of, CC Spokane went into a Wednesday night showdown with heated rival Walla Walla and rallied from a goal down on two occasions to earn a draw on the night.

The Warriors presented some dangerous moments in the opening 30 minutes with a lot of excellent combination play between the attacking players, moving deftly through the Spokane defense to find good looks at goal.

The visitors took the lead in the seventh minute. The play started with Brenden Kenley (Meridian, ID) took the ball up the right side, but when his service went well over the area and was cleared away by a Sasquatch defender it appeared over. The clearance, though, was collected about 40 yards out by Esau Vasquez (Kennewick, WA) and sent back into the box finding Kenley unmarked inside the area. Kenley sent a looping header over goalkeeper Kevin Alvarez and under the bar.

"We came out good. You have to bring the energy and intensity when you play a team of this quality and to get on them quick," said Walla Walla head Coach Ben Rotert. "Luckily we were able to get the two goals real quick."

"Something we focus on a lot in training is getting the ball and playing, passing and moving. So it was good to see the boys come out and execute what we work on in training. And we had numbers flying everywhere and it created a lot of chances for us."

Spokane tied things up in the 23rd minute when Breno Rocha was was fouled in the outer right corner of the box. He was convert the penalty moments later.

"We sometimes just struggle starting matches - I don't know if its nerves, or if its fear. We just struggle starting matches, and then once we get our foot on the ball and start to control things, then they settle in," said Sasquatch Head Coach Kenny Krestian. "But, usually its after a goal or two has been put in on us. We just have to have that mentality to start strong and continue to go forward."

The game only stayed on level terms for about two minutes, however, before the visiting Warriors reclaimed the lead with a nice bit of combination play inside the box.

Emilio Meraz-Rodriguez slotted a ball from the top of the area directly forward to Jose Anguiano (Kennewick, WA), who struck a well-driven ball from about 10 yards at a tough angle to the near post. Alvarez saved the shot, but the rebound was pounded home by Alex Saldana (Milton-Freewater, OR).

Things began to shift for Spokane midway through the period when a Walla Wall injury halted the action and Sasquatch assistant coach Chad Brown barked at the players to get together and sort things out. After they broke from the huddle on the field, there was a noticeable improvement the remainder of the half in the defensive effort of the Bigfoot as they gradually grabbed further control of the game into the second half.

"That's been the case where they definitely take heart to what we say," said Krestian. "At halftime the the nerves settled and they decide we can play, that we can compete. And I think that was the bigger difference in that second half is that we decided we can compete and not go through the motions."

Spokane nearly got the equalizer in the first half with three good chances before the break. Roberto Esquivel (Post Falls, ID) created a pair of opportunities in the 30th and 31st minutes and Rocha had another chance in the 37th on a break, but couldn't get good contact on the bouncing ball and sent it over the goal.

The equalizer came 12 minutes into the second half when Esquivel was fouled trying to find space at the top of the box to get a shot off. Moments later on the free kick about 21 yards out he sent a perfect effort on the dead ball into the goal. He nearly netted a winner in the dying moments of the match on another free kick from similar distance, only to have to smack off the crossbar.

"Roberto has been close a couple times this year. It was good to see him get one on the first one and then I thought he had the second. I said 'oh he got him' - nope, got the crossbar."

At the end of its second run through the East, Spokane improved from 2-2-1 to 3-1-1 against the opposition.

"I think it's a good end to the second round of this three-way play. Through two, we did better in the second round than we did in the first round, so now its continuing to improve on that in the third round.

"It's still so tight. I'd hate for it to come down to one game and one mistake, but the way it's been tight I think everybody has to step out and compete every day. That's the key thing is competing."

Walla Walla is right behind the Bigfoot, but so is everyone else.

"It shows the depth of the East. On any given day, anybody can beat anybody and it's just another hard-fought battle," said Rotert. "And we get to go through it again. Only time will tell who comes out on top."


MEN #############

Also on Wednesday night, struggling Wenatchee Valley played to a scoreless draw at North Idaho and Treasure Valley downed Columbia Basin 2-1. The action that night marked the conclusion of the second run-through of the division under the league's new format in which everyone plays each other three times on the men's side in the division. Spokane kept its hold on the division Saturday with a 1-0 victory at Columbia Basin while Wenatchee Valley picked up its third win by downing Walla Walla 4-2 for the third consecutive Warriors loss. North Idaho played to another goalless stalemate, this time against Treasure Valley. The top and bottom of the division - by far the most competitive in the league - are now separated by just eight points.


Spokane 6-3-2... Walla Walla 4-3-4... Columbia Basin 5-6-0... Treasure Valley 4-4-3... North Idaho 3-4-4... Wenatchee Valley 3-5-3

Upcoming Games 

Wednesday, October 21
Walla Walla @ Treasure Valley 2:00
North Idaho @ Columbia Basin 4:15
Wenatchee Valley @ Spokane 7:15
Saturday, October 24
Spokane @ Treasure Valley 1:15
North Idaho @ Walla Walla 2:15
Columbia Basin @ Wenatchee Valley 2:15

WOMEN #############

The CC Spokane women are running away with the division. On Wednesday they were idle while Columbia Basin posted a narrow 1-0 win against Yakima Valley and North Idaho dropped Wenatchee Valley 3-1. The following night Treasure Valley blanked Walla Walla 2-0. On Saturday, Spokane was handed their first loss of the entire campaign (10-1-1 overall now) in a 2-1 result at Columbia Basin, which sits in a three-way tie now for second with North Idaho, 5-1 winners at Yakima Valley, and Treasure Valley, who was idle for the weekend. Clark is now the only remaining NWAC women's team without a loss at 7-0-2 (10-0-3).


Spokane 7-1-0... Treasure Valley 5-3-1... North Idaho 5-2-1... Columbia Basin 5-3-1... Walla Walla 3-4-1... Yakima Valley 1-6-2... Wenatchee Valley 0-7-2

Upcoming Games 

Tuesday, October 20
Walla Walla @ Yakima Valley 2:00
Wednesday, October 21
North Idaho @ Columbia Basin 2:00
Wenatchee Valley @ Spokane 5:00
Saturday, October 24
Spokane @ Treasure Valley 11:00
North Idaho @ Walla Walla 12:00
Yakima Valley @ Wenatchee Valley 12:00

-- INWsn --