Here’s one reason the Cheney boys soccer team is unbeaten this year: Cheney soccer coach Mark Kiver is always thinking ahead.
Moments after the Blackhawks clinched a spot in the state semifinals Saturday afternoon, the players were reaching for a 10-gallon bucket of ice water.
But Kiver had already reached for his cellphone and tossed it out of harm’s way.
“You’ve got to have fun and enjoy the moment,” said Kiver, whose team is certainly doing that. The Blackhawks shut down Toppenish 2-1 at Albi Stadium to run their record to 19-0.
On Friday, the Blackhawks will face either Bellingham or Archbishop Murphy of Everett in a semifinal match at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner, Wash.
Moments before the dousing, Kiver told the players that former head coach Steve Davis “sends his congratulations” while on the road to Everett to scout the Bellingham-Archbishop Murphy match later that night.
Now that’s thinking ahead, something that was a luxury after Cheney’s streak of five straight playoff appearances ended last year.
“My mind is going 100 miles an hour,” senior captain Tyler Pratt said. “I felt like we’ve rebuilt from absolutely nothing.”
Not exactly. The Blackhawks have just the right blend of talent to win it all, starting with a defense that has yielded just two goals in its last four matches.
“They’re keeping me bored back there,” goalkeeper Joe Scott said.
At the other end, the Blackhawks took the lead in the 12th minute when leading scorer C.J. Skillingstad took a corner from Trevan Estrellado and headed it home from the far post.
“It was good service, it bounced around and I got my head on it,” Skillingstad said.
Toppenish, which came into the match on a 17-game winning streak, had the better of it for much of the first half, forcing a not-so-bored Scott into a pair of acrobatic leaps to push screaming shots over the bar.
In the second half, Pratt stopped a dangerous Toppenish run, conceding a corner that was easily handled by the defense.
“We’re not the fastest people,” Pratt said. “But we’re smart and we know what we have to do, and we get it done.”
The Blackhawks dominated the second half, and had several chances that misfired.
Midway through the second half, Toppenish pushed more players forward, and the Blackhawks made them pay.
In the 70th minute, on a play similar to the winner against Othello three days later, Skillingstad found forward Forester Seipp with a thread-the-needle pass.
Fighting off two defenders, Seipp slammed the ball home from 10 yards out and the Blackhawks were almost there.
“I just had to stay in strong and use my body,” said Seipp, a football linemen who had no trouble doing exactly that.
In the last 10 minutes, Toppenish had a couple of chances and finally scored with a minute left after a failed clearance.
But the game ended moments later, and the Blackhawks could have some fun.
“This is so amazing,” Skillingstad said after the players thanked their fans. “I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
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