Back at home after two consecutive away matches, the Steelheads found themselves in a slow starting match down 0-2 to Kirkland FC in the 1st 30 minutes of the game. The 2nd half saw a tale of two teams as the Steelheads swam the way back to salvage a point at home, but felt like a wasted opportunity to snag key points as the league table heats up.
“Finishing Our Chances…” says Head Coach & Technical Director Dagi Kesim
“Kirkland games are always tough games. I wasn’t happy with individual mistakes, team shape, and aggressive play from my team in the first half. I also don’t want to take credit away from Kirkland, they played a great first half. In the second half, we looked like hungry lions and we went after them. The way we played in the second half, we deserved the win. I am proud of my boys for fighting and at least tying the game. You can not be a champion by being ok with a tie. We have got to do better, especially at finishing our chances. Every game this season, we have more opportunities than our opponents. We gotta put the ball back in the net.”
Kirkland FC started the game with their foot on the pedal, as they pressed the Steelheads back and forced a lot of mistakes which led to the 1st goal. Fifteen minutes into the first half, Ahmed Elsir gave up a foul 35 yards out, which led to a Kirkland freekick. The Kirkland player took a shot on goal from the freekick and was able to beat Dorian Lair for the opening goal. Ten minutes later the Goats were able to win a corner kick, which they looked to play short but instead played the ball near post for a Kirkland player to have a wide-open header for the second goal of the evening. With about five minutes left in the first half, the fish were almost able to cut the lead in half. Jacen Stein played a beautiful cross into the box, which found a wide-open Andrew Escalante, unfortunately, he put the ball wide of the goal post. The game would remain 0-2 at the Half.
Critical Halftime Speach In The Locker Room
The second half was a tale of two halves. After a boisterous, emotional, much-needed halftime chat from Coach Dagi Kesim, the fish came out of the gate with a high press, Kirkland spent the majority of the second half defending the onslaught of press from the fish. The 1st goal for the Steelheads came after the Fish attackers were able to steal the ball in the middle of the pitch. Cristiano Whitaker and Jacen Stein connected with a few give-and-go passes which lead to Stein’s 3rd goal of the season. Stein has played two games for the Fish since returning from the spring season at Western Washington University. The remainder of the 2nd half saw the Fish continue to press, which saw Head Coach Dagi Kesim switch the system up and play with only two defenders. This left the fish exposed in the back, but thanks to some amazing defending and quick thinking for Goalkeeper Dorian Lair in goal, the fish were able to keep Kirkland from getting that 3rd important goal. As we entered stoppage time (3 minutes) Ernesto Ventura played Escalante down the right side of the field. Escalante took the defender on and sent a cross into the box which took a small deflection and thankfully Ventura continued into the box and was able to place his shot into the far left corner of the goal. The fish tied the game 2-2 with almost zero time left to play. As time expired the fish were able to leave the game with a point but another missed opportunity will hopefully not come back and haunt the Steelheads’ season.
Other League play:
From around the league, Lacey Light was able to hand Wenatchee their first loss of the season 1-0, while Nido Aguila beat Seattle Umoja 3-1. The Steelheads still have two games to play against Lacey and Nido with a home match against Umoja.
The Fish will take on the newly rejuvenated Lacey Lights away at South Sound Stadium.
Stina Larice Photography