BELLINGHAM, WA—The Snohomish County Steelheads made their indoor soccer debut on Saturday March 6 at the Bellingham Sportsplex against 4-time Western Indoor Soccer League (WISL) Champions Bellingham United. The Fish stuck around for three quarters before the guys from Title Town exploded for a big win. The Trails End Taphouse & Restaurant Magenta Kits were worn for the first time.
It’s a victory of sorts for SnoCo that this friendly match was even ever played. The Covid-19 Pandemic derailed the entire debut WISL season for the Steelheads. Head Coach Jim Kessler refused to let all the training end without competition and he worked with the league and other clubs to set up the match and two more coming up in March. So the Fish headed north to face one of the most successful indoor teams in state history.
Kessler brought 14 guys up for the friendly: Rio Alcorta, Cesar Avila, Carlos Betancourt, Lucas Dourado, Andrew Escalante, Bryan Fakkema, Sergio Garcia, Dorian Lair, Steve Moseley, Garrett Robinson, Gustavo Rodriguez, Christian Steiner, Gunnar Stohl, and Morgan West.
Referees failed to arrive for the match due to a error on the scheduling date. Steelheads assistant coach Craig Otto stepped into their roles so that the friendly could be played and did an admirable job. The Hammers allowed 35 fans into the building. There were several there cheering for the Fish.
The first goal in Steelheads indoor history was scored by Bryan Fakkema in the first quarter. His soft reverse touch rolled the ball slowly into the Hammers goal. Andrew Escalante set up the score with a direct no-look pass at the top of the box. It was 1-0 in favor of SnoCo FC. Bellingham would later answer back and then take a 2-1 halftime lead on a scramble just before the second quarter buzzer sounded. Halfway through, the Fish were doing well sticking with the champs. This was due in large part to the stellar goalkeeping of Dorian Lair.
Lair continued to shine in the second half. The Hammers went ahead 3-1 in the third quarter but Escalante came through with another assist, this time a on-the-dime pass to Sergio Garcia who slotted one home. It was a close one, 3-2 going into the fourth quarter.
Things fell apart for Snohomish with the hosts knocking in 7 unanswered goals in the last period. The champs awoke and the Fish couldn’t stop the onslaught. Lair continued to make save after save, but the visitors couldn’t solve the Bellingham pressure. SnoCo FC would have to settle for the moral victories of playing an actual match and making it close for a while.
SnoCo FC voted Dorian Lair Man of the Match. He was followed by Bryan Fakkema and Andrew Escalante.
Head Coach Jim Kessler looked at the positives of the trip. “We had an opportunity to get in some game time, although in an exhibition fashion, against the reigning club champions. Our boys came out strong and played with heart. It was a great showing for a new group of guys to go into the defending champions home and score first. While we didn’t get the result we wanted, we competed with the best the league has to offer for 3 quarters. We learned a lot about ourselves and our style of play. I am proud of the effort the guys put forward on Saturday night.”
The Steelheads will take on BUFC again, this time at the Snohomish Soccer Dome. Watch for details soon. Kessler is looking forward to another challenge. “We know what we need to do to be better on March 20th when we host the same Bellingham squad at home. We will be ready!”