Spartans soccer falls short in shootout vs. rival Eagles

May 13, 2014

By Neil Pierson

Familiarity breeds contempt, the old saying goes.

For Issaquah High School goalkeeper Saif Kerawala, though, familiarity breeds success.

Kerawala plays alongside many Skyline players during his select soccer season with Eastside FC, and his knowledge of how they take penalty kicks proved valuable in the Class 4A KingCo Conference championship match on May 8.

Kerawala saved the first two shots he faced in the shootout from Skyline’s Nick Morgan and Armeen Badri, and that helped push the Eagles past the Spartans, 4-2, after the game remained tied 1-1 through regulation and overtime.

It was the first defeat of the season for Skyline (12-1-3), which beat Issaquah (12-1-1) on May 1 to nab first place in the regular-season standings and home-field advantage for the tournament title-game rematch.

Spartans coach Don Braman said his team played well and had a chance to win. Instead of earning the No. 1 seed to state, though, they hosted Garfield May 13, results that came after press time. The winner of that game earned the No. 2 seed to state and a first-round contest on the road.

“It’s a resilient team, and we came back from conceding right after half and we worked hard and really forced the issue,” Braman said. “I thought we created a great opportunity to not only tie but to win the game.”

When the teams met May 1, Skyline got an early goal from forward Jason Twaddle and focused on defense most of the game to get a 1-0 win. The rematch, however, saw the Spartans possessing the ball and creating most of the scoring chances in a driving rainstorm.

That was particularly true after Issaquah’s Dyllon Nguyen scored three minutes into the second half, beating Alex Appel with a drive to the near post.

“That’s what he does: He gets the ball out wide, takes a guy on, goes inside and has a shot at goal,” Eagles coach Kyle Tatro said of Nguyen. “Sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to get, but usually you’re going to get a good product like that, a good strike on goal.”

“The wind was going that way and it kind of fell to him, and he hit a great shot,” Braman added. “They’re good players. We know that, so you can’t give them an opportunity like that.”

However, Skyline responded by creating more chances. In the 56th minute, Morgan nearly scored right in front of the goal after Kerawala punched away Nate Hardwick’s free kick, but the ball skittered over his foot.

Issaquah’s Jack Figg stretched to block Twaddle’s open chance in the 70th minute. But the Eagles committed a pair of yellow card-worthy fouls after that, and the second one set up the equalizing goal.

Badri’s free kick near the right side of the penalty box found a host of players in front, and the Eagles knocked it in for an own goal in the 78th minute.

“We forced the error,” Braman noted. “It doesn’t go in off us, but if they don’t kick it in, we’re going to. There’s no question.”

Skyline had nine shots on goal to Issaquah’s five, but Kerawala stood tall when he needed to. The shootout was his chance to shine. Along with two saves, the big junior also scored his team’s first PK. Teammates Conner Hughes, Michael Callan and Saam Amiri followed with goals, igniting a raucous celebration on the Skyline pitch.

It wasn’t surprising to see Kerawala come up big, Tatro said.

“Saif is big time; he’s a good player and one of the many reasons why this team is special,” said Tatro, Issaquah’s first-year head coach who led the program to its first conference tournament title.

Kerawala said his mindset entering a shootout is simple: Get big and cover up as much as much of the goal as possible prior to the run-up, then read the shooter’s hips.

“It’s not always that easy,” he added. “Sometimes you just get lucky.”

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