SUMNER, Wash. – It was an all too familiar scene – the final seconds of the boys State 2A soccer championship ticking down and Cheney frantically scrambling around, trying to prevent the inevitable.
The clock reached zero. The realization of yet another runner-up performance hit the Blackhawks’ players, followed by emotion.
For the fourth time in the last five years, Cheney had to settle for the second-place trophy, losing 3-1 to an undefeated Fife squad in the title match Saturday at Sunset Chev Stadium.
“It’s starting to get kind of old finishing second,” Cheney coach Mark Kiver said, “but I am so proud of what this team has been able to accomplish. Just making the final four is special.”
Led by the team’s six seniors, the Blackhawks players embraced each other in a group circle.
Tears were shed, but the overall message was a positive one.
“It’s bittersweet,” Cheney senior Tyler Pratt said. “I was a part of this two years ago. It hurt then and it hurts now, but I am so proud to be a member of this year. We just told the younger players to continue the tradition of Blackhawk soccer next year. We told them that next year it will be them celebrating, 3-1.”
Cheney finishes the season with a record of 20-1.
The Blackhawks fall to 0-4 all time in state championship matches, having also lost 2-1 to Sehome in 2008, 4-2 to Squalicum in 2009 and 1-0 to Bellingham in 2010.
“Fife deserved to win today,” Kiver said. “They were able to finish shots and today they were the better team.”
Fife, which lost 2-0 to Lynden in last year’s finals, concluded its season with a 21-0 record.
Cheney junior goalkeeper Joe Scott, who was brilliant in two overtimes and a shootout during the Blackhawks’ semifinal victory over previously undefeated Archbishop Murphy on Friday, was again stellar in net, stopping 14 Fife shots.
Cheney’s Ian Schimandle tied the match at 1 on his goal in the 28th minute.
The equalizer came after Fife goalkeeper Ulises Zepeda batted down a forceful shot from Micah Weller.
Schimandle hammered in the rebound from point-blank range.
The Trojans, however, reclaimed the lead for good 5 minutes later on Edgar Garcia’s goal to take a 2-1 advantage into the intermission.
It ballooned to a two-goal deficit for Cheney in the 51st minute on an Albert Carrillo goal.
An aggressive Fife attack had Cheney defenders on their toes early as most of the action during the opening 20 minutes of play took place on the Blackhawks’ half of the field with a handful of minutes directly in front of the Cheney box.
Scott turned away five Fife shots before the Blackhawks had registered an attempt on the Trojans’ goal.
Fife finally broke through in the 23rd minute on Cesar Esquivel’s goal from 15 yards out.
Scott originally swatted down Esquivel’s blast but was unable to secure the ball before it trickled across the line, putting the Trojans up 1-0.
Cheney graduates six seniors – C.J. Skillingstad, Forester Seipp, Evan Cook, John Gingrich, Pratt and Kyle Bustamante – but could make another deep playoff run next season as it returns a bevy of talent, including Scott and sophomores Weller, Trevan Estrellado and Schimandle.