SUMNER, Wash. – Mark Kiver’s eyes were starting to well up with tears.
“So close,” the Cheney boys soccer coach silently said after a long, drawn-out exhale.
It was another heartbreaking finish to an exceptional season for the Blackhawks.
For a third consecutive year Cheney advanced to the State 2A championship game, and for a third time the Blackhawks were handed the second-place trophy following the contest.
Tristan Bosman scored the game’s only goal in the 52nd minute to power Bellingham to a 1-0 victory over Cheney in the state finals at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner on Saturday.
“It’s a tough way to have the season end,” Kiver said. “This group has really accomplished a lot this season. I’m really proud of this team and everything they’ve done.”
The Blackhawks finished the season 18-4.
Cheney lost in the state finals in 2008 to Sehome (2-1 in overtime) and in 2009 to Squalicum (4-2).
“I don’t want to make any excuses,” Kiver said. “(Bellingham) played a great game. They came in focused from the start. Bellingham has eight or nine seniors. They have a lot of experience. We’re a pretty young team. They were looking to get some revenge on us from last year since we knocked them out in Cheney.”
The Blackhawks defeated the Red Raiders (19-4) 2-1 in last year’s state quarterfinals.
Like Bellingham, Cheney, behind the exceptional play of senior goalkeeper Andrew Wilson, had not given up a goal through the first three games of the state playoffs – outscoring opponents 5-0 during the first three rounds.
That trend for both teams continued through a scoreless first half before Bosman did something no one else had done in the tournament – sneak a shot passed Wilson.
Bosman took a pinpoint accurate pass from Matt Schmidt right in front of the net and headed it by an outstretched Wilson, giving the Red Raiders a 1-0 lead, which proved to be enough in the physical game.
“One mistake was the difference,” Kiver said. “They were able to get that one through and that was difference in the game.”
The goal snapped Wilson’s playoff scoreless streak at 292 minutes.
Playing with a sense of urgency, Cheney increased the tempo on the offensive during the game’s final 20 minutes.
Daniel Igbinoba’s shot 10 yards out at the 67th minute proved to be the Blackhawks’ best chance at finding the equalizer, but the senior’s shot sailed over the net.