The defining moment in another great Cheney soccer season? It depends on whom you ask.
For defender Daniel Bogart, it came during winter workouts, when “we realized that we had lot of potential.”
For midfielder Micah Weller, it was a pair of early losses to bigger schools “that showed maybe we needed to step it up a bit.”
For most of the players, it was an old-fashioned, one-game-at-a-time mentality that was brought into a sharper focus during the long, unfamiliar bus ride to Grandview for last weekend’s quarterfinal match.
“We had a long time to think about it,” defender Carson Lamphere said.
After a 2-0 win that head coach Mark Kiver called “our best defensive performance of the year,” the Blackhawks are back in familiar territory: their fifth final four appearance in six years. Cheney will face Ridgefield at 8 p.m. Friday at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner, Wash.
The winner plays the following night against Tyee or Sedro Woolley for the 2A title, the only prize which has eluded one of the most consistently winning soccer programs in the state.
“Every year we talk about that good teams don’t make it back,” Kiver said before practice earlier this week on the artificial turf at Gonzaga Prep. Kiver noted that defending champ Fife didn’t even make it to the tournament. Perennial powers Archbishop Murphy and Bellingham also are gone, the latter losing 1-0 to Ridgefield.
Cheney, which finished 20-1 last year, came into the season with some question marks, losing heavily on defense and up front. A year earlier, Cheney handled the Greater Spokane League teams, but this year the Blackhawks dropped 2-0 decisions to Mead and Lewis and Clark.
“Every team has a little different chemistry, and it develops and grows throughout the season,” said Kiver, now in his fourth year. “That’s when you see what the teams are made of.”
Once the preseason was over, the Blackhawks (18-2) tore through their Great Northern League schedule, going 10-0 while scoring 47 goals and conceding just four.
“I’ve been really proud of our defense all year, our heart and our determination,” Lamphere said.
District wins over West Valley (3-0) and East Valley (4-1) were followed by a 3-1 regional win over Toppenish and 2-1 first-round victory over West Valley-Yakima.
“We don’t ask them to play outside themselves,” Kiver said. “We only push them and encourage them to to do things they can do.”
Still, Grandview looked like the team to beat on the east side of the state. The Greyhounds had dominated their region and had home-field advantage, but Cheney “played very focused,” according to Kiver. “They (Grandview) had better touches and more team speed” than we’re used to seeing.
“That’s why I was really impressed with our defense.”