Skyline nips Issaquah in KingCo boys soccer clash

May 7, 2014

By Neil Pierson

In a matchup of teams with very similar résumés, it was one of the most talented players on the pitch who came through with the game-changing play.

Skyline senior forward Jason Twaddle scored in the fourth minute, and the Spartans handed the rival Issaquah Eagles their first loss of the season, 1-0, on May 1 at Spartan Stadium.

The victory catapulted Skyline (9-0-1, 28 points) past Issaquah (9-1-0, 27 points) for first place in the Class 4A KingCo Conference boys soccer standings. The teams will play for the KingCo tournament title at 7:30 p.m. May 8, and Skyline will have the home-field advantage again.

“Tonight was about trying to secure home field, and that’s it,” Spartans coach Don Braman said. “It doesn’t mean anything more than that. We’re not excited about anything other than hosting this game, and we know that there’s nothing that’s been accomplished yet and we have everything to prove.”

Twaddle also seemed to have something to prove. With the game still in its feel-out stages, he corralled a pass near the left corner of the penalty box, swiveled to his left, took a couple touches and blasted a shot past Issaquah goalkeeper Saif Kerawala.

“I always love those (plays) in the corner – just beat a guy and then try to shoot it,” Twaddle said. “It’s not very likely, but I got lucky and got it in.”

Eagles coach Kyle Tatro believed the goal resulted partially from a defensive mistake, but he didn’t take credit away from Twaddle.

“Our defender slipped as (Twaddle) made the turn and recovered, but not enough,” Tatro said. “And Twaddle is a fabulous player. He’s got the talent to score those kind of goals. He took advantage of that slip on our part, but he’s definitely got a phenomenal strike.”

From there, the Spartans seemed content to play defense and wait for counterattacking opportunities. The Eagles controlled possession for large portions of the match, and came within inches of equalizing on two occasions.

In the 13th minute, Issaquah’s Josh Zhou used a flip throw to get the ball deep into the box. Ryan Higgins got his head on it, but flicked the shot off the goalpost.

Moments after Twaddle and Armeen Badri combined for a great Skyline chance in the 53rd minute, the Eagles nearly tied it again when Dyllon Nguyen’s shot struck the crossbar.

The Spartans have had a stellar year defensively, posting shutouts in 11 of 15 matches. They’ve allowed four goals all season, which has helped them weather offensive droughts; they’ve scored two or fewer goals 13 times.

“We’re not much about scoring,” Twaddle said. “We just like to get one goal, and then we’re done with the game pretty much and we try to defend.

“Really, our defense is just solid. They’re all well-rounded players and they really know how to communicate with each other.”

Physicality picked up in the second half. Issaquah wound up committing 14 of the game’s 21 fouls, and two Eagles – Higgins and Jeff Shipley – were issued yellow cards.

Higgins’ caution was the result of a hard challenge on Skyline defender Jake Therrien in the 45th minute. Therrien hobbled off the field and didn’t return, sitting the bench with ice taped around his right ankle.

Issaquah suffered its first shutout of the season, and although the Eagles had the bulk of possession, wins and losses boil down to goals, Tatro indicated.

“The difference is finishing,” he said. “It’s plain and simple – they took advantage of the opportunity they were given and some played some great football from there on out … and made things difficult for us.”

Regardless of the result in the KingCo championship match, both teams are assured of spots in the state tournament. But the winner will host a state playoff game, while the loser will likely travel, so the stakes are higher and Braman expects an even tougher test for the Spartans.

“Issaquah will regroup,” he said, “and we know that they’re a strong side and they’re going to make adjustments. It’s just like, wipe the slate clean and start again.”

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