BELLEVUE, WA—(submission to goalWA.net) The Thunderbirds of Highline College traveled east last Tuesday to take on long-‐ time rival Bellevue. The ‘Birds would look to keep their momentum going as they have not dropped any points in their last five matches and will stop at nothing to retain their hard fought Western Division Crown. Bellevue, on the other hand would becoming out tough in order to avenge a difficult 2-‐1 away loss suffered to the T-‐ Birds earlier this year. The match was set up to be an entertaining one between old time foes with several players and staff on both sides being very familiar with each other.
The Highline Men are currently ranked #16 in the country and #1 on the West Coast according to the latest NSCAA poll. The ‘Birds are also ranked top of the league according to the latest coaches poll as well as the SoccerCzar rankings in addition to being the reigning NWAC Champions. It is important to being up these facts because if the T-‐Birds can count on two things this year it is that everyone in the NWAC would love nothing more than to beat Highline and they can count on getting every opponent’s best effort over 90 minutes. These traits were not forgotten by Head Coach Steve Mohn in the pregame talk, “You can expect these guys [Bellevue] to come out flying for the first fifteen minutes. We have to match their energy and stay disciplined.”
Come out flying is exactly what the Bulldogs did in the opening minutes of the game as they looked to gain an early advantage. After a few half chances Bellevue had their best opportunity of the game. A smart cut back to the top of the box found a Bulldog midfielder’s feet who unleashed a venomous strike that seemed destined for the far corner. T-‐Bird goalkeeper Grayson Raffensberger was equal to the task with magnificent sprawling save that parried the ball wide of the net. That was as close as Bellevue would come for the duration of the match.
After enduring the initial Bulldog surge Highline was able to find their groove and start to carve out chances of their own. Alvaro Osornio and Isidro Prado-‐Huerta both had good shots saved by Bellevue keeper David Simmons. However in the 44th minute the Thunderbirds would find their breakthrough. Freshman Jandjamuje Maharero was able to pick up the ball on a counter attack and find Isidro on the right flank with space 1 v 1 versus the BCC left back. Prado-‐Huerta jinxed his way past the defender in a way Bayern’s Douglas Costa would have been proud of before firing a banger into the bottom left corner of the Bulldog net. The 1-‐0 advantage to Highline is the way the teams would enter halftime.
A word comes to mind when describing the way Highline came out in the second half, unplayable. That is exactly what the T-‐Birds were as they went on to power 5 more goals past a defense that had previously that had previously only allowed 17 all year. When the T-‐Birds are in a mood like this, they will be extremely difficult to beat. Highline should have doubled their advantage immediately after halftime if not for one of the saves of the season from keeper David Simmons who pulled off a Manuel Neueresque reaction save to deny Colton Ronk from close range. However a few minutes later Jandjamuje was on the score sheet as his shot from distance nestled in the lower left corner of the bulldog net. Literally two minutes later Sophomore Alvaro Osornio unleashed an audacious effort from thirty-‐five yards that found the inside of the far post past a extended Simmons to give the T-‐Birds a 3-‐0 lead. Jandjamuje would tally another goal as he caught a Bellevue player in possession at half and coolly slotted his breakaway home.
Enter the field the freshman duo of Adama Kante and Jaddir Gonzalez-‐Medina, who went on the torment the Bulldog defense even further. Almost immediately after entering the field Adama latched on to a through ball by Jaddir and calmly stroked the ball past the onrushing keeper. The last Thunderbird goal was a sight to behold as Jaddir ghosted past three Bulldog defenders with a Messi-‐like run before unselfishly playing the ball on to Kante who made no mistake as he registered his second goal of the evening to make it 6-‐0 Highline.
The Highline defense also had made a statement with the game as they went on to register their seventh shutout of the season meaning they are currently pitching a shutout every .58 games, which is a NWAC best. Another league top is The T-‐Bird goal differential, which currently sits at +38. Sophomore keeper Raffensberger can also boast an NWAC best with a 0.66 Goals Against Average (GAA). The defense will need to keep at its best though as they have three more massively important games.
The T-‐Birds will have a slightly longer rest period this week before they take on Pierce College on Saturday. Highline undoubtedly made a statement with their win against Bellevue, but will have to have a short memory and stay grounded as their next three matches will likely decide who will win the West and pick up a first round playoff bye.
Grayson Raffensperger (Highline) recorded the shutout
Prado-Huerta, Isidro (Highline) at 44 min
Maharero, Jandjamuje (Highline) at 52 min
Osornio, Alvaro (Highline) at 54 min
Maharero, Jandjamuje (Highline) at 66 min
Kante, Adama (Highline) at 82 min
Kante, Adama (Highline) at 84 min
Maharero, Jandjamuje (Highline) at 44 min
Prado-Huerta, Isidro (Highline) at 52 min
Maharero, Jandjamuje (Highline) at 54 min
Castillo, Alex (Highline) at 66 min
Gonzalez-Medina, Jaddir (Highline) at 82 min
Gonzalez-Medina, Jaddir (Highline) at 84 min
Simmons, David (Bellevue) Saves: 4
Raffensperger, Grayson (Highline) Saves: 6
Simmons, David (Bellevue) Goals Allowed: 6
Min Park (Bellevue)
Colton Ronk (Highline)
Jandjamuje Maharero (Highline)
Sunny Singh (Highline)