The Bigfoot ladies used a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Cardinals Wednesday to lock up a division championship repeat and celebrated with a 5-0 playoff tuneup victory Saturday against the Warriors.
The Sasquatch men also topped NIC by a 2-1 scoreline, but the title race went down to a season finale showdown with second-place Walla Walla Saturday that finished 3-0 in favor of Spokane.
The showdown between the top two teams Wednesday evening proved to be a thrilling night. The Bigfoot were looking to rebound from a surprising loss the weekend before and were still working on the installation of a new defensive system.
They were able to connect, however, in the 38th on a fantastic goal. A throw-in deep on the left side into the box by Jadyn Sanchez (Rathdrum, ID) was headed out near the six by Anna VanOrder, but Jessica Scott (Post Falls, ID) reached out and struck the ball first-time out of the air, sending a looping ball over Emily Busselman into the back of the net.
The Sasquatch nearly evened things up in the 44th minute when Alysha Overland (Moses Lake, WA) was fouled in the box, but her penalty was stopped by Cassandra van der Mey (Dalton Gardens, ID).
Disappointed by the saved effort, Overland was later overjoyed at making up for the missed chance, showing great jubilation after she tied things up a minute into the second half after driving into the box.
Bigfoot defender Cali Moscrip (Lewiston, ID) almost put the hosts in front when a corner knifed its way through the box and then out to midfield where Davien Engeberg (Spokane, WA) served it back in, but Moscrip was not able to get a good enough touch on it to complete the chance. North Idaho nearly made Spokane pay a minute later with a chance at the other end that created some anxiety.
After a night of charging up the right side of the field in the attack and creating problems for North Idaho in the attack, defender Stephanie Overland provided the heroics on the night. A corner with two minutes remaining rolled out to her outside of the top of the box, where she looped a shot in over the goalkeeper that dropped underneath the crossbar for the game-winning tally.
"We changed our system a little bit and it catered a little better to Stephanie and her style, and she was able to get at it and got the goal that she's been working on all year long. I think it was her first goal of the year and she's been chasing that one all year, and what a night to get it - perfect timing.
"I don't know if we are going to keep it or not," he added about the new defensive system. "It worked tonight and we only trained with it two days. Like I said last game, we were going to try and get four in the back and we found a way to do it and still maintain our attack. Our girls, for minimal training, executed it beautifully. The first half we were a little shaky. NIC brought it to us in the first half, but we settled in and, yeah, they did really well. All over the field they did really well."
Alaina Bates (Spokane Valley, WA) nearly pushed it to two in the 17th when she came forward from left midfield to hit a 20-yard strike only to see it go barely over.
Five minutes later, however, Spokane did double the lead on another tally from Alysha Overland. Sydney Weiler (Spokane, WA) hit a long ball out of the back over the defense that drew the goalkeeper outside of the area, but Overland won the race and got her head to it first, nodding it over the keeper and into the empty net.
Maddy Boyd pushed the advantage to three just before the break when she collected the ball in the 44th minute while cutting diagonally from the left to the middle. As she crossed into the box she released a shot from about 14 yards that created the commanding advantage.
Her sister Stephanie capped the scoring in the 57th when she sent an unexpected shot from a tough angle on the right side about 22 yards out over the goalkeeper and inside the back post.
"We did what we needed to do today. We kept everyone healthy, we got everybody into the match. Really, kind of a tune-up game before the playoffs with this one really having no significant meaning. It was nice to work some things out and have some success today."
INWsn Photo Galleries - NIC v CCS [+] WWCC v CCS [+]
As had been the case much of the year, Spokane saw the opposition create dangerous moments early in the match before the Bigfoot got into its own groove. On Wednesday, Jorge Carmona (Idaho Falls, ID) nearly gave NIC the early lead seven minutes into the match, but his shot from the top of the penalty arc smacked off the crossbar.
Spokane took the lead in the 31st when Johnny Cortez (Moses Lake, WA) took the ball inside the top of the box and fired home, though it created a bit of confusion before being ruled a goal as it bounced directly out as though it had hit the crossbar.
The Cardinals nearly scored to pull even four minutes into the second half when Sean Cotton (Moses Lake, WA) split two defenders in the box before Kevin Alvarez denied the chance at the last moment.
A minute later Cortez struck a nice well-paced effort from about 13 yards that tested Garrett Boyce (Coeur d'Alene, ID).
Spokane added some needed insurance in the 71st minute when Roberto Esquivel (Post Falls, ID) fired a fantastic volley for what proved to be the winner as North Idaho struck a minute later.
The Cardinals gained possession of the ball inside the box with Alvarez a bit out of position, allowing Braden Ridgewell (Hayden, ID) to score from about 14 yards out.
The visitors nearly completed the rally with five minutes remaining when Kelly Kyllo (Nine Mile Falls, WA) mishit the ball, allowing Matt Howard (Post Falls, ID) to get the ball on the left side, where he narrowly missed wide right.
On Saturday, the Bigfoot did something rare - took control from the outset and posted a shutout on the day.
"Nice to score first; keep a clean sheet," men's Head Coach Kenny Krestian said Saturday night. "After Wednesday's match we put on the team board: shutouts win championships. We knew coming in that if we kept a shutout the eastern region would be ours.
Though a couple early near chances came up empty, the Sasquatch got on the board first 20 minutes in when Cortez chased a ball down the left side and sent a low cross back through the box that Eric Sanchez-Flores smartly left for the incoming Mario Zarate (Richland, WA), who buried it from about 17 yards.
The Warriors nearly answered eight minutes later on a quick counter when Emilio Meraz-Rodriguez (Pasco, WA) drove in up the right side of the box and crossed it in. It took a deflection, finding its way to Jose Anguiano (Kennewick, WA), whose shot from about nine yards was denied by a great save from Alvarez, who had to recover to make the stop.
Spokane nearly doubled the lead in the 33rd when Cortez got behind the defense, but goalkeeper Francisco Flores made a nice save to knock his 16-yard shot away.
In the second half a pair of free kicks around the eighth minute created some chances for the Bigfoot, but went unfulfilled, allowing Walla Walla to stay in the game. The Warriors had the next few chances in the contest.
In the 56th minute Francisco Sanchez (Walla Walla, WA) struck a great shot from about 20 yards that elicited a great diving save from Alvarez to send it wide. Six minutes later the visitors had a great chance deep inside the box, but Anguiano was stuffed point-blank by Alvarez at the edge of the six. A free kick from midfield in the 67th found Christian Segovia (Walla Walla, WA) about eight yards out, but his header flew just wide.
The missed Warrior chances proved costly as Spokane doubled the lead in the 76th. A free kick from midfield deflected in the box off a pair of defenders, finding its way to Cortez for the eight-yard finish.
The final 10 minutes were frantic as Walla Walla made a late grab at trying to win the East.
Spokane nearly put the lead to three when Breno Rocha got behind the defense and let loose from about 19 yards, but it curved wide of the keeper's reach and the far post in the 83rd minute.
In the 90th minute Jared Davis made a fantastic touch along the right sideline to break free from pressure and drive to the corner, delivering a ball into the box that Rocha put off the crossbar.
A minute later in stoppage time Rocha would connect for the final goal. He ran onto a ball served in behind by Marcellous Curtis and sent a 17 yard shot over the keeper and just inside the left post.
"Three rounds - I think realistically the top teams showed. Walla Walla, credit to them, had a great season. Columbia Basin College has been consistent so I think the three best teams are representing the east," Krestian said of completing their first season in which their was no crossover play with another division and they had to face each division foe three times. "I don't know if I am still a fan of the three rounds, but we'll make it work. And now, it just comes down to preparation for Saturday, and we'll know the opponent after Wednesday."
INWsn Photo Gallery - WWCC v CCS [+]
NWAC EAST UPDATE - MEN #############
Also on Wednesday evening, Wenatchee Valley and Treasure Valley played to a scoreless draw that proved costly for the Chukars in the race for the final playoff spot as they finished one point back of Columbia Basin College, which fell to Walla Walla that night and to Treasure Valley in the season finale Saturday, 3-2. In Saturday's other contest, Wenatchee Valley posted a 4-2 win over North Idaho, which dropped all the way from division champion a year ago to last place.
Spokane^ 9-3-3, 30... Walla Walla* 7-4-4, 25... Columbia Basin* 7-8-0, 21... Treasure Valley 5-5-5, 20... Wenatchee Valley 4-7-4, 16... North Idaho 3-8-4, 13 -- ^Division champion, * clinched playoff berth (3)
Wednesday, November 4
Southwest Oregon @ Walla Walla 1:00
Columbia Basin @ Chemeketa 1:00
Saturday, November 7
Whatcom / Bellevue @ Spokane 2:15
Walla Walla / SW Oregon @ Peninsula 2:00
Columbia Basin / Chemeketa @ Highline 7:00
NWAC EAST UPDATE - WOMEN #############
Walla Walla topped Columbia Basin 2-1 and Treasure Valley downed Yakima Valley 6-2 in the other two contests Wednesday evening. Seeding for second was still up for grabs Saturday, but North Idaho posted a 3-1 win over Wenatchee Valley while Treasure Valley finished out with a scoreless draw against Columbia Basin.
Spokane^ 10-2-0, 30... North Idaho* 8-3-1, 25... Treasure Valley* 7-3-2, 23... Columbia Basin 5-5-2, 17... Walla Walla 5-6-1, 16... Yakima Valley 1-9-2, 5... Wenatchee Valley 1-9-2, 5 -- ^Division champion, * clinched playoff berth (3)
Wednesday, November 4
Chemeketa @ North Idaho 1:00
Treasure Valley @ Clark 2:00
Saturday, November 7
Tacoma / Everett @ Spokane 12:00
North Idaho / Chemeketa @ Peninsula 12:00
Treasure Valley / Clark @ Highline 4:30
-- INWsn --