WENATCHEE — The championship game for the Caribou Trail League/Central Washington B League was a matchup between two rivals, Cascade and Cashmere on Thursday night at the Apple Bowl.
Cascade came into the game unbeaten at 13-0-1, while Cashmere was 14-2. Their two losses were against, you guessed it, Cascade. Both games were ultra close, ending in shootouts.
On this night, Cashmere would turn the tables on unbeaten Cascade, dealing them their first defeat of the season, 2-0. The victory not only won the Bulldogs the district title but also a number one seed going into the state tournament.
“It’s a great feeling. These guys earned it. They deserve it. They have been working so hard. We’ve had so much discipline. Every practice, nobody gives up. They keep improving,” said Cashmere Head Coach Juan Valle.
In the first half, Cashmere over and over again tried long connecting passes to their forwards trying to get a one-on-one chance. Cascade kept snuffing it out, obviously familiar with the strategy.
Cascade was able to move the ball around, but they just not get the connecting pass they needed to make some shots on goal. The Cashmere defense was stellar all night.
At 28 minutes, senior Caleb Bakken had that one-on-one chance with nothing but a lone defender between him and the goalie. Somehow Bakken was able to head the ball in for the game’s first score.
Valle was confident once they got that tally, the defense would win the game for them.
“We knew, coming into this game, that they were not going to score. Our goalkeeper and defense have been carrying us all season. We were confident they were not going to score on us,” Valle said. “We knew if we could put a goal in their net, that was going to be it.”
Cascade managed only three shots on goal in the first half.
“Both the previous games were really close. Both came down to shootouts. We knew, coming in here, that Cashmere was going to give us a really hard game. That is soccer for you. You make a mistake and you’re not ready, they are going to capitalize on it,” said Cascade Head Coach Jesus Sandoval. “We had a few chances to score, but we couldn’t do it.”
Cashmere led 1-0 at halftime.
Cascade tried furiously to get that equalizer, but time and again just could not penetrate the Cashmere defense for the scoring chance. The Kodiaks managed only one shot on goal in the second half.
Cashmere was not doing much better against the Kodiaks defense, managing only three shots per half, but they made it count. At 55 minutes, Evan Bakken got the one-on-one chance right outside the box.
Cascade keeper Jerome Jerrome came out, which proved a fateful move, as Bakken booted the ball behind him for the score. Cashmere led 2-0. The way the Bulldogs were playing defense, it was going to tough comeback for Cascade.
The Kodiaks just could not find the connecting pass they needed.
“We did talk a lot about connecting our lines, defense with midfield and midfield with the forwards. That is something we’ve been doing really well the whole season,” Sandoval said. “Today we were forced to jump more than wanted because Cashmere had high pressure on us the whole game. That is just their style. They are going to go at every 50-50 ball really hard.”
Cashmere allowed just five shots on goal. Cascade allowed just six. Each team had five corner kicks, none scored. Cashmere had 12 fouls, Cascade 11. Picking up yellow cards were, from Cashmere Caleb Bakken, Evan Bakken, Yahir Lanuza, Javier Reyna, and Isaiah Hall. For Cascade, picking up yellow cards were Jose Valdez and Ricardo Barragan.
For Valle, beating Cascade in districts was sweet revenge for the tough close losses during the regular season.
“They beat us twice in shootouts. Even in those first two games, we had a lot of opportunities we just couldn’t put away. This game, we came out playing the same. We made a couple of adjustments. We were able to come out with the victory,” Valle said.
Cascade Assistant Coach Pete Speigel is confident they will see Cashmere again.
“We’ll see them again in the final four. That’s fine. It’s good to get our loss in before we go to state. It will be a more difficult path, but to be the best you have to play the best,” Spiegel said.
With the victory, Cashmere gets the number one seed from District 6. That means a home game in the first round of state, which begins on March 13. The Bulldogs will host Connell from the South Central Athletic Conference.
“We haven’t seen them in the regular season. We played Royal and won 2-1. It’s the playoffs so it doesn’t mean anything. It’s the playoffs and we have to be ready for anyone that comes along,” Valle said.
Cascade will be on the road for the first round of state, at another SCAC school, Royal.
“They are a good team. Wahluke is in their league, a team makes it to the state final four every year. This year, they beat them,” Sandoval said of Royal.
Ian Dunn: 664-7157