Friday, November 13, 2015

CC Spokane headed to NWAC Final Four after doubleheader sweep

Despite two completely contrasting games, there was plenty of drama Saturday as the CC Spokane women and men came away victorious to book trips to this weekend's NWAC Final Four in Tukwila, WA. The women equalized twice before grabbing the 3-2 win in overtime against Everett and the men took advantage of a Whatcom side that imploded with three red cards en route to a 5-1 result in which the visitors also initially led.

NWAC EAST UPDATE - WOMEN #############

Everett 2 :: OT :: 3 Spokane 

The defending league champion Everett Trojans took the initial lead 10 minutes into the contest when a ball down the right side drew a Sasquatch centerback back out to try and stop the attack, but Lauren Allison, the league's second-leading goal scorer, got by and fed a ball in centrally to Claire Nelson for the finish from about 17 yards.

Aside from the lone goal, the half proved to be more of a chess match as each side spent more time trying to feel one another out, and Everett's ability to maintain possession made things difficult for the Bigfoot in trying to get offensive momentum going.

"I thought it was kind of a low energy half on both sides," said Bigfoot Head Coach Jim Martinson. "I think both teams, maybe, were feeling the game out a little bit. Possession on both sides was good, but nobody really had the energy to change the game at that point. After an injury on their side, we kind of had a lull and gave up a goal."

"Credit to Everett - they're good. The thing we talked about at halftime - and all week - is we've been down before and had our backs against the wall. We just keep going. Everett had the better possession in the midfield, but we just had to find a way to pick off a bad pass, capitalize on a mistake in the middle of the field and eventually it would pay off. Couple of times it did. Everett was good. I think this was a semifinal match today. Both teams are great teams that deserve to be in the Final Four."

Things continued to go in favor of the Trojans in the second half. Five minutes in Ava Mana'o got the ball in the right corner, and then drove through the center of the box past three defenders before having the ball knocked away. Four minutes later Nelson stole the ball at midfield and drove forward, firing a shot from the penalty arc that forced a nice diving save from Emily Busselman (Richland, WA).

The missed chances opened the door for Spokane, which pulled even a minute later. Alysha Overland (Moses Lake, WA) got around the defender on the right side and as she neared the end line sent a low ball to the top of the six for the finish by Maddy Boyd (Spokane, WA) inside the left post.

Everett was not done though. Nelson won a header at the top of the box and Allison finished, putting the ball in at the left post in the 61st minute.

It only took two minutes for the Sasquatch to equalize this time.

Cali Moscrip (Lewiston, ID) created the chance in the 63rd minute with a well-paced shot from about 28 yards out on the right side that a defender got a glancing touch to as it headed far post. The slight change in direction left the keeper out of position and Overland put it away at the near right post to set the sides even at two each.

With just over 10 minutes remaining, the visitors put forth a pair of chances to grab the victory with Nelson sending a shot from the right just wide left in the 77th. A minute later Anisa Uberuaga cut diagonally on the right side into the box, beating a defender and firing from about 13 yards, but Busselman made another nice save.

Spokane nearly found the winner themselves in the 79th when Erica Simpson (Post Falls, ID) got the ball to the right end line and dropped it back to Overland at the top of the box, but goalkeeper Emily Sorenson made a nice catch on the well-struck ball.

The balance of power clearly had shifted in the second half in Spokane's favor as the offense had awoken and was far more lively in front of goal; and hungry to score.

"That's been something we've had all year with Alysha, Sarah Melvin (Spokane, WA), Maddy, Erica and Stephanie Overland (Moses Lake, WA). The kids we've got up top - their speed, athleticism is great. And that's something we said going into overtime. Let's get the ball forward. Let's get it to our forwards - let them go to work. The legs in the middle of the field for us were tired and the backs had done a lot of work, so we wanted to get the ball forward and let them go to work - and they did. It paid off."

That payoff came just two minutes into the extra session, though it took a few moments for everyone to realize it was over.

The Bigfoot caught the Trojans a bit by surprise when Stephanie Overland got the ball on the right side and sent a ball in toward goal that floated toward the goal and dipping in under the crossbar. The keeper, caught slightly out of position, reached back and pulled it out, but the assistant referee signaled that the ball had crossed the line and moments later the whistle sounded and the celebration ensued.

Though her sister is the NWAC's leading scorer, Stephanie Overland has now scored in three consecutive games - two critical in moments with the first clinching the division title in a 2-1 win over North Idaho 10 days prior.

"She's getting the game-winners. She got the game-winner in the East region title game, she hits the game-winner today. So let's keep that going into the Final Four for her. Step up and hit the big ones."

Other Results

North Idaho 0 :: 1 Peninsula 
The Cardinals nearly made it a pair of East Division teams in the Final Four, but perennial power Peninsula broke the scoreless stalemate with a goal in the 105th minute to book a fifth consecutive trip to the Final Four.

Clark 0 :: 2 Highline
Shoreline (4) 0 :: PK :: 0 (3) Lane


Saturday, November 14

Shoreline v Spokane 10:30
Highline v Peninsula 1:00

Sunday, November 15

All-Star Match 10:30
Championship Match 3:00

[All games available on YouTube]

NWAC EAST UPDATE - MEN #############

Whatcom 1 :: 5 Spokane 

Both teams got off to a quick start. Spokane nearly opened with a goal two minutes in, but an offside call halted their first chance. A minute later the Orcas nearly took the lead when a shot from about 30 yards on the left side with pace tested Bigfoot goalkeeper Kevin Alvarez. The rebound was struck to the far post but he leapt out to smother it.

The visitors did, however, get on the board first, continuing a trend of falling behind early that the Sasquatch can't seem to shake. Kevin Miranda got the ball and from about 28 yards out struck a fantastic ball on the center right side of the field that rocketed inside the left post in the 18th minute.

From that point, Spokane dominated things and as things got chippy, it spiraled out of control for the visitors.

A minute after Whatcom went in front, the Bigfoot had shouts for a red card on the Orcas keeper Hector Gutierrez, who had come out of the box and fouled Johnny Cortez (Moses Lake, WA) about 27 yards from goal on a breakaway toward goal. He went undisciplined.

Spokane did pull even, though, in the 23rd minute when Mario Zarate (Richland, WA) got the ball about 10 yards out from the outside right corner of the box. He switched the ball to the left, putting Eric Sanchez-Flores behind the back line. The striker beat Gutierrez to the ball, deftly knocking it past the keeper and inside the far side netting to make things even.

In the 29th minute, the visitors lost the first of three players to a red card in the match. Thomas Alvarado was initially shown a yellow for an elbow as he went up for a header, but during the heated dissent after the call the referee pulled the red from his pocket and sent him off.

Three minutes later, Everett goal scorer Miranda was dismissed as well for an elbow to the face as he went in to challenge for a 50-50 ball, receiving a straight red card on the infraction.

The visitors did well to manage their shortcomings to get to the break without falling behind, but Spokane came out firing on all cylinders and were too much to contain without a full squad.

Just four minutes in Cortez connected with Breno Rocha, but Gutierrez made a nice diving save.

A minute later, however, luck was not on the keeper's side when a 23 yard free kick from about 23 yards smacked off the crossbar, and after a few deflections was buried by Cortez for the lead in the 50th minute.

Two minutes later Whatcom had a last decent chance to score with a series of chances. After the first opportunity led to a corner, the service in on the restart found the head of Will Kingman, but the attempt was saved. The rebound kept the play alive though, creating a mad scramble in the box that saw the Sasquatch make several blocks on shot attempts before Alvarez smothered the ball.

The missed Orca chances were nearly answered with an immediate goal from the hosts when a Whatcom corner led to a quick counter for the Sasquatch that was nearly finished by Cortez.

Then in the 55th Rocha missed just wide right after being put in behind the bunkered in defense.

With the match firmly in Spokane's control and Whatcom trying to keep themselves alive, things got even more difficult for the Orcas when the referee halted the action in the 66th minute. After a brief discussion with one of his assistant referees, he brandished a red card a third time, this time sending off Uriel Herrera, who had apparently used abusive language towards the officials away from the play.

Two minutes later the Sasquatch locked up the result when Sanchez-Flores sent in a cross from the right corner that Cortez brought down outside the far post and hammered in from nine yards.

Rocha finally found the back of the net in the 70th minute on a ball Cortez, finding the back of the net with a fantastic side-volley finish.

Joseph Lea rounded-out the scoring with 10 minutes left via Jared Davis as many of the bench players began to see time for the Bigfoot.

Other Results

Walla Walla 0 :: 1 Peninsula 
Trevan Estrellado (Cheney, WA) provided the deciding goal in the contest, scoring in the 55th minute to send the Pirates to their fifth Final Four appearance in six years after coming up short a year ago in a quarterfinal loss to the East's North Idaho College.

Chemeketa (5) 3 :: PK :: 3 (4) Highline
Tacoma (4) 0 :: PK :: 0 (3) Clark


Saturday, November 14

Tacoma v Spokane 3:30
Chemeketa v Peninsula 6:00

Sunday, November 15

All-Star Match 12:30
Championship Match 5:30

[All games available on YouTube]

-- INWsn --