CASHMERE — The Cashmere Bulldogs should have a ton of confidence following their stunning 3-1 victory over the Wenatchee Panthers on a chilly Tuesday night at Cashmere Soccer Field.
Granted, the Panthers were down a few girls and gave their freshman a good chunk of minutes but the Bulldogs looked impressive and played one of their most complete games of the season; making really only one mistake defensively and applying consistent pressure on the Panthers skilled back-line.
“Oh it’s huge,” Cashmere head coach Dennis Tronson said when asked about the kind of boost the win could give. “We made one defensive error, which we paid for, but that was the one time all night and we were able to play different systems and tried players in different positions. I can’t say enough about the back-line and Angelica Walkley and Grace Hammond who controlled the back.”
The Bulldogs have not lost and are (6-0-1) since moving Hammond to the back two weeks into the season.
Wenatchee head coach John Springer was pleased with his girls’ performance, given the circumstances and the fact that Cashmere is a solid team.
“I thought it was a great game back-and-forth and we were able to get some freshmen up from JV and they played some good minutes,” Springer said. “I thought they played hard, Cashmere is (just) a good team and they caught us off-balance a few times.”
The Panthers struck first with Taylor Schoengarth scoring three minutes into the game, but the Bulldogs leveled the score in the seventh minute. Cashmere senior Alli Ball made a long run past Wenatchee’s Maddy Smith down the far sideline and followed up a teammate’s shot, which had squirted underneath keeper Nyah Hughes and rolled to Ball’s right foot.
Neither team generated a whole lot the rest of the half, heading into the break still even at 1-1.
Wenatchee came out of half and pressed for a second goal in the first 10 minutes, but they were unable to get more than a couple of free kicks, which Smith floated just over the bar.
Playing into Cashmere’s hands, the game opened up 50 minutes into the match and became more of a track meet. Cashmere started to move the ball downfield with Chloe Diaz playing some excellent balls forward to Natalie Dart and Clare Norman, and eventually, the Bulldogs were rewarded with Diaz blasting a shot into the upper-90 to give Cashmere a 2-1 lead. The Bulldogs added a third goal just three minutes later as Diaz drew two defenders before dishing the ball off to Gabriella Burts, who buried her shot to the near post.
“When she scored I was thinking we were right where we needed to be, we just had to grind it out, start to link some passes together and possess the ball,” Tronson said.
Cashmere did just that with Tronson dropping Diaz into more of a defensive position to close out the match.
“That was a huge building game for us, and now we go on the road to play Okanogan on Thursday, which is a difficult place to play,” Tronson said. “But if we can play our game and do what we do, we should get a positive result.”
The Panthers, meanwhile, have the rest of the week to get ready for Sunnyside, who they face at home on Saturday in what will be their last home game for two weeks. The Panthers beat Sunnyside 3-nil in September.
“These back-and-forth games just won’t work for us, that’s not our game,” Springer of the loss. “When it starts to get stretched that is where we can get caught so we have to recognize that and settle the ball back down, set things up and build a possessive attack. Cashmere just took us out of our game, but it’s something to build on.”