REDMOND, WA—The Snohomish County FC Steelheads Men kicked off their 2022 Cascadia Premier League (CPL) season with a 2-1 victory over the Goats of Kirkland FC on Saturday April 30 at Grass Lawn Park in Redmond.
It was the third straight league opener win for the Fish dating back to 2019 and the very first win for SnoCo FC over the Goats. The three previous meetings between the two clubs had all ended in ties.
Snohomish County struck first in the 24th minute when the Fish were awarded a free kick. Cesar Zavalza took the kick a good distance from the box and delivered a ball that connected with Glenn Paden. Paden converted the set play by heading the ball into the net for a 1-0 Steelheads advantage. It was Glenn’s first CPL goal and third goal of the year overall.
Glenn described his goal. “Cesar played a cross into the middle of the box on a freekick. I thought I was a little too deep for it and didn’t think the ball would make it to me but all the players in front of me just seemed to part out of the way. I actually had to duck down a bit to head the ball. I was still a bit far away from the goal to have a good chance but my shot looped in over the top of the keeper and just under the bar. Just enough for me to be able to avoid getting tackled by my teammates and perform my celebration as planned.”
Paden is living for the set pieces he’s getting so far in 2022. “The key for me in terms of getting onto the score sheet has been set pieces and great crossing service from my teammates. Even my one breakaway this year I waited, got taken down in the box, and converted the penalty, making it a set piece goal.”
The Fish and Goats have played to nothing but ties over the years and the match was level at 1-1 in the 67th minute when Kirkland were awarded a penalty kick and converted the chance.
Tyler Sharp made sure this one would not be a fourth straight tie in the series history between the two teams. In the 8oth minute he danced his way around and through multiple defenders to create his chance. Going from the outside and cutting to the middle of the pitch he unleashed a shot about 20 yards out that beat the Goats keeper and gave SnoCo FC a 2-1 lead. It was Tyler’s first CPL goal and his third overall on the year. Sharp and Paden lead the Fish with three goals each so far.
Tyler was well aware the Fish were looking for a boost. “After they tied the game we were short on time and I knew we needed to make something happen fast,” Sharp said. “So when I turned with the ball in the midfield and saw the space they were giving me, I took it with the sole intention of scoring.”
Then came an unexpected takedown. “After my shot went in I didn’t even have time to celebrate because Glenn (Paden) had already tackled me to the ground!” joked Tyler.
Sharp (Monroe High School, College of Idaho) is showing he can be there for his team. “The biggest factor that has helped me score those goals (this season) is making as many runs for my teammates as possible and always giving them an option. I always try to stay involved in the play, which ends up giving me great opportunities to score.”
Head Coach Daghan “Dagi” Kesim reflected on the match. “It was nice to start the league with a win against a rival that we have always ended up with draws before,” Kesim said. Dagi liked the offensive chances but not the rate of converting them into goals. “I definitely want us to finish our set plays and we will be working on that more.”
Kesim was pleased with the defense. “I am happy that the only clear chance we gave up was the penalty against us.” Overall, the performance was a building block. “We need to do better and will continue to improve,” he said.
Replacing solid starters who are no longer with the team (moved out of town) has been an ongoing process, Dagi explained. “Missing Rio (Alcorta) and Jared (Davis) from our midfield is tough, but Daniel Amador has shown incredible importance and improvement in a short amount of time.”
The victory at Kirkland gave the Fish a 1-0-0 start in the CPL and moved the club’s overall season record to 3-1-0.
On Saturday May 7 Snohomish County plays their home league debut when they host the defending CPL Champions Wenatchee All-Stars FC at 7 PM at Dick Cardinal Stadium in Smokey Point.