Eagles exact revenge on Spartans, win KingCo soccer title

May 9, 2014

By Staff

NEW — 11:55 a.m. May 9, 2014

Familiarity breeds contempt, the old saying goes.

For Issaquah High School goalkeeper Saif Kerawala, though, familiarity breeds success.

Kerawala plays alongside many Skyline High School players during his select soccer season with Eastside FC, and his knowledge of how they take penalty kicks proved valuable in the Class 4A KingCo Conference championship match May 8.

Kerawala saved the first two shots he faced in the shootout from Skyline’s Nick Morgan and Armeen Badri, and that helped push the Eagles past the Spartans, 4-2, after the game remained tied 1-1 through regulation and overtime.

The shootout was Kerawala’s chance to shine. The big junior also scored his team’s first PK. Teammates Conner Hughes, Michael Callan and Saam Amiri followed with goals, igniting a raucous celebration on the Skyline pitch.

It wasn’t surprising to see Kerawala come up big, Eagles coach Kyle Tatro said.

“Saif is big time. He’s a good player, and one of the many reasons why this team is special,” said Tatro, Issaquah’s first-year head coach who led the program to its first conference tournament title. “We knew that he was capable of those kind of things all along. We knew he would be able to perform in those type of situations. He’s used to it.”

Kerawala said his mindset entering a shootout is simple: Get big and cover up as much as much of the goal as possible prior to the run-up, then read the shooter’s hips.

“It’s not always that easy,” he added. “Sometimes you just get lucky.”

Morgan and Kerawala have been Eastside FC teammates for three years, so the keeper was very familiar with his style. Even so, he said, it’s a mind game of sorts going one-on-one in those situations.

“Sometimes (knowing them) can help you out a lot,” Kerawala said, “but sometimes it can also be your worst enemy because you think they’re going one way and they mix it up, or they go their normal way when you think they’re going (to switch).”

In a game played under heavy rain, Issaquah (12-1-1) was able to avenge its lone loss of the season, which came seven days earlier against Skyline (12-1-3) in the KingCo regular-season finale. The Spartans’ victory pushed them past Issaquah for first place and gave them home-field advantage for the tournament title game.

In the first match, Skyline got an early goal from forward Jason Twaddle, and focused on defense most of the game to get a 1-0 win. The rematch, however, saw the Spartans possessing the ball and creating most of the scoring chances.

That was particularly true after Issaquah’s Dyllon Nguyen scored three minutes into the second half, beating Alex Appel with a drive to the near post.

“That’s what he does: He gets the ball out wide, takes a guy on, goes inside and has a shot at goal,” Tatro said of Nguyen, a senior forward. “Sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to get, but usually you’re going to get a good product like that, a good strike on goal.”

“The wind was going that way and it kind of fell to him, and he hit a great shot,” Skyline coach Don Braman added. “They’re good players. We know that, so you can’t give them an opportunity like that.”

However, Skyline responded by creating more chances. In the 56th minute, Morgan nearly scored right in front of the goal after Kerawala punched away Nate Hardwick’s free kick, but the ball skittered over his foot.

Issaquah’s Jack Figg stretched to block Twaddle’s open chance in the 70th minute. But the Eagles committed a pair of yellow card-worthy fouls after that, and the second one set up the equalizing goal.

Badri’s free kick near the right side of the penalty box found a host of players in front, and the Eagles knocked it in for an own goal in the 78th minute.

“It’s a resilient team, and we came back from conceding right after half and we worked hard and really forced the issue,” Braman said. “I thought we created a great opportunity to not only tie but to win the game.”

Kerawala said he and his teammates had to refocus after the goal.

“We’ve given up three or four goals this season, and right after, we’ve always responded really well,” he said.

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