It was a tough-luck night, but the Cheney soccer team was more than tough enough to overcome it.
After giving up a tying goal late in regulation, the Blackhawks scored with 2 minutes left in overtime to defeat Othello 2-1 in a first-round State 2A match Wednesday night at Gonzaga Prep.
“We came into the huddle after regulation and we knew we could do it,” senior defender Evan Cook said. “They (Othello) were excited, but we had a sense of calm.”
So the Blackhawks settled down, dominated the overtime and were rewarded when midfielder C.J. Skillingstad gathered a loose ball 25 yards from the goal.
“I got the ball, held the defender off and made a little toe punch to Forester,” Skillingstad said.
That would be forward Forester Seipp, who blasted the ball into the net and sent the unbeaten Blackhawks to the state quarterfinals.
“It was a really quick play,” Seipp said. “C.J. gave me a great ball.”
The sense of calm gave way to bedlam. Players and fans rushed the field as Cheney clinched a spot in the quarterfinals.
The Blackhawks (18-0) will face Toppenish at 1 p.m. Saturday at Albi Stadium.
Cheney dominated the match and led most of the way, but allowed a goal on a pair of bad clearances with 3 minutes left in regulation.
“It’s all about mental toughness,” coach Mark Kiver said. “Every team is fighting hard and no one wants to go down.”
Othello (16-4) went down with a fight, despite playing its first game of the season on artificial turf. The Huskies threatened in the 27th minute, and Cook saved a goal off the line with a header.
“It was terrifying,” Cook said. “Guys were going into me. I had to hold guys off and head it out.”
But the Blackhawks easily handled the resulting corner kick.
“I was very proud of him,” goalkeeper Joe Scott said of Cook. “That was very nerve-wracking.”
Barely a minute later, Skillingstad found space on the left wing and dribbled toward the box. He was pulled down for a free kick that set up a set-piece play the Blackhawks have used before.
Midfielder Trevan Estrellado’s kick found the far post, where Micah Weller passed into the box as Skillingstad came into open space and drove the ball home.
“We work on that one every day in practice, and it’s worked before,” said Skillingstad, the team’s leading scorer this season.
Cheney almost took a 2-0 lead in the 34th minute, when Ian Schimandle dribbled 50 yards and took a strong shot that sailed just over the crossbar.
It was more of the same in the second half as the Blackhawks dominated play but couldn’t finish.
“And sometimes that happens,” Kiver said.
In fact it happened several times over, with Skillingstad missing a pair of long shots and Weller misfiring in the 68th minute.
Late in the game, Cheney relaxed a bit and Othello pushed more players forward, scoring the tying goal in the 78th minute.