ELLENSBURG – Ellensburg seems to bring out the best in Adam Talley, especially during playoff time.
In the fall, the East Valley sophomore strutted his stuff on the football field. Saturday in the Rodeo City, Talley left Ellensburg’s heart broken on the soccer field.
The Knights’ speedy forward scored two goals in the span of 18 minutes to help lift his team to a 2-1 win in the quarterfinals of the State 2A tournament. East Valley (17-2-1) moves on to the semifinals in Sumner on Saturday, against Lynden or Franklin Pierce. Ellensburg’s season is finished.
“I don’t know what it is about this place, but I do seem to do well against Ellensburg,” said Talley, who rushed for 171 yards and a touchdown in his team’s 32-14 regional playoff win in Ellensburg in November. “I try to perform pretty good every game, but it has happened here twice.”
Talley’s tallies gave him seven of the Knights’ 10 goals this postseason and 18 goals during the season.
Ellensburg (13-8-1) entered the match with a game plan to mark the EV striker with at least one and sometimes two defenders at all times. Nonetheless, Talley came out firing from the opening whistle. He boomed a right foot less than 3 minutes into the match that nearly found the net.
In the 18th minute, EV senior Miles Rinne had a free kick from midfield that he floated into the Ellensburg goal box. Defender Tom Lembeck misread the ball and his header trickled toward Bulldogs goalkeeper Andrew Yoder. Talley beat Yoder to the ball and blasted it with his left foot to give the Knights a 1-0 lead.
Just seconds into the second half, Talley converted on a breakaway to give his team the cushion it coveted. The 2-0 lead almost assured EV a victory, considering the Knights hadn’t given up more than one goal in 19 matches entering the day.
“One goal for us so far this season has been pretty much enough,” EV senior captain Tyler Tran said. “We pretty much have everything locked down back there on defense.”
After Talley’s second score, the Bulldogs turned up the intensity of their attack. EV fired nine first-half shots, five on frame, but following Talley’s second goal, the Knights managed just one more shot in the match. Ellensburg assumed the role of the attacker, firing 16 shots (10 on frame) in an attempt to keep its season alive.
“We knew we had to pick up the intensity, not let them get any good shots off because we knew they would bring it,” Rinne said.
Ellensburg’s lone score came with 2:31 to play. Yoder attempted to float a free kick from midfield in hope of finding a streaking Bulldog. Instead, the long ball one-hopped into the net for the goalie’s first career goal.
Talley was the star striker of the afternoon, but it was the Knights’ ability to dominate possession and thwart the Bulldogs’ attack that keyed a berth into the semifinals.
“That’s what we are based on, our defense,” EV coach Jeff Paulus said. “That’s what brought us this far and that’s what will carry us next weekend.”
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