SMOKEY POINT, WA—The Snohomish County FC Steelheads earned their first-ever point against Wenatchee All Stars FC with a 2-2 draw on May 7 at a rainy Dick Cardinal Stadium. The Fish had to come from behind to get the result, but the guys left with the feeling they should have won the match.
Head Coach Dagi Kesim said, “Wenatchee is very talented and very fast. Offensively the best team in our league. We did a great job minimizing their chances while getting many opportunities to score. Unfortunately we couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net. We have never gotten this many chances against them. I am proud of my boys.”
Ready At Kick Off
In two previous meetings Wenatchee had taken 5-3 and 3-0 victories over Snohomish County. This time the Steelheads were determined to imprint their will on the match. Early pressure led to the opening goal from Andrew Escalante just 10 minutes in.
“After forcing Wenatchee to turn the ball over with our press, Jeremy (JD) Maldonado (named by Coach Kesim as Man of the Match) played me a ball at the top of the 18 yard box,” Escalante says of the goal. “Both of the center backs from Wenatchee closed me down and didn’t leave me much option to shoot, so I hit a toe poke and the ball split both defenders and beat the keeper to his bottom left corner of the goal.” The strike provided the Steelheads their first-ever lead against the All Stars.
Defending Champions Reply
The 2021 defending league champions answered back with two goals before halftime. The Steelheads feel both goals were avoidable or involved fortunate Wenatchee bounces. Wenatchee scored their first goal after Snohomish played a soft ball back to keeper Dorian Lair that was pounced on by Miguel Varimontes to make it 1-1. Later in the half Wenatchee were awarded a penalty after a ball was crossed into the box and a Snohomish defender slid in to clear the ball. The ball took a funny bounce and hit the hand of a Fish defender. The conversion by Adrian Espinoza put Wenatchee back in a familiar position—leading Snohomish on the scoreboard.
Second Half Steelheads Surge
The Steelheads dominated much of the second half, creating multiple chances to score multiple goals. Nothing was being finished. In the 75th minute the Wenatchee keeper made a huge mistake by dropping the ball and picking it back up, giving Snohomish an indirect free kick inside the corner of the penalty box. The Fish were able to capitalize on this mistake. Karim Piottin had the first touch to set up Cristiano Whitaker for his goal to tie the game at 2-2.
The Fish continued to create chances until the soggy final whistle blew.
For the All Stars the match marked a new league record. Wenatchee has gone 16 straight league matches (14-0-2) without a loss.
Match Gallery: FB.com/snocofc
Bittersweet But Breaking New Ground
The result was bittersweet knowing the Fish delivered enough chances, class, possession and dominance to take all three points. even with key players still away at college. But the bright side is that for a second straight week the club accomplished something they had never done before. On April 30 the Fish beat Kirkland FC for the first time after 3 straight draws. A week later the guys secured their first-ever point against Wenatchee.
The challenge now is to back up this dominant performance with a statement win on Saturday May 14 when the Steelheads travel over the mountains for a rematch with Wenatchee on the grass pitch of Wenatchee Valley College.