This contest had the makings of a prize fight – two accomplished squads with no love for each other vying for the top of the league table, both hoping to assert with a dominant performance. The stadium was buzzing, and the Issaquah Eagles had a boisterous contingent of vocal fans present for their senior night celebrations. Redmond represented well too, with numerous superfans making their presence felt on the visitor’s side of the pitch. Out of the gate, Issaquah seemed content to let the Stangs maintain possession of the ball, but incorporated a high press to pounce on any loose passes in the Redmond defensive half.
Redmond was able to make some defensive statements early, with a number of nice hard-nosed tackles from Diaz, whose strong physical play visibly frustrated the Issaquah wingers on his side of the action. Also impressive was the hustle of Kieneker, working hard on the tackle in the offensive half and then scrambling back hard to cover on D. Offensively, the Stangs were able to get a few dangerous balls into the Issaquah box, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Redmond was also able to conjure up multiple corners in the early minutes but was not able to convert on those precious chances. Issaquah was exceedingly crafty in the air and had multiple aerial near-goals headers in the early going, one of which was called back because of off sides. The relentless aerial assault from Issaquah eventually took its toll, and half way through the opening 40, the Eagles crashed the box one too many times and scored off a header to put the Stangs down 1-10.
To Redmond’s credit, the Stangs came out of the restart with renewed fire. Dadzie was able to pounce on a loose ball deep along the attacking right wing and crossed a ball which caromed off an Issaquah defender to a ready Stein for the left foot strike through traffic into the back of the net. 1-1! At the tail end of the half, a lone Issaquah defender was able to shut down a dangerous Stein/Hernandez/Price RHS counter attack with a timely defensive tackle and was able to avert a sure Redmond chance.
Coming out of half time, Issaquah seemed a touch faster to the ball and picked up their possession game. Redmond was trying to ask questions of the Issaquah D. At one point early in the second stanza, Redmond had four players in the Issaquah box to field a Dadzie cross but weren’t able to find the daylight to drive it home. On the Redmond defensive front, Bury, Wiyrick, and Fahrig were making their presence known in the air. Fahrig in particular was taking the brunt of some Issaquah physicality in this match and paid a steep price on a few occasions.
Issaquah kept pushing hard for the go-ahead goal and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Keeper Escalante had a wonderful point-blank save after an Issaquah cross connected with an unmarked forward deep in the box for a quick strike. What quick reactions by Escalante! Unfortunately, a minute later the ball was still in the Redmond defensive third and an Issaquah forward gave up the body in the box with a stretching/sliding goal which eluded all of the back line. 2-1, Issaquah. A few minutes later, the Stangs earned a corner which was cleared to safety and directly into a surging Issaquah counter attack, which was deadly even though under-manned and proved clinical with a red zone cross and finish. 3-1 Issaquah.
In the waning minutes of the match, Issaquah battened down the hatches on defense and played the clock game. This match was definitely a case of a supremely motivated Issaquah squad who did not want to disappoint on their senior night and made the most of their chances.
Goal: 34’ (Stein)