The Hanford boys soccer team may be facing the next-to-last place team in the Greater Spokane League at 5 p.m. today in Richland, but there are enough Falcons who remember being on a sub-.500 team.
And they know those teams can get hungry, too.
“They know. This program has changed quite a bit, but (the players) remember that teams like that cause problems like that all the time,” Hanford coach Mike Pardini said of his team’s 5 p.m. matchup with North Central (3-9) today at Hanford High School. “That’s why we play the games.”
Pardini said North Central has several quality players to be aware of, and his team has to take care of business on the field. That might be a little bit tougher without all-Mid-Columbia Conference forward Will Bishop, who suffered a knee injury a month ago in a win at Richland.
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The Falcons are looking to get back to the Class 3A state tournament, where they finished fourth last year after reaching their first Final Four since 2002.
A 2-1 loss to Kamiakin in the regular-season finale may have cost Hanford a shot at the No. 1 seed — Sunnyside claimed the top spot after winning the Columbia Basin Big Nine — but Pardini tipped his hat to the Griz, who are looking for their first state berth since 2010.
“They’re back where they used to be. It’s definitely a great accomplishment for them,” Pardini said. “We want to win every game. When we lost the Kamiakin game, we lost a chance to be the No. 1 seed. We embarassed ourselves, I guess.”
Othello (13-4) at Grandview (10-5), 5 p.m.: The last time these two teams met, both were set up for a run at the CWAC league championship. The Greyhounds earned a hard-fought shootout win and went on to win their first league title since 2008, but the Huskies will be looking for some payback.
Othello lost its final three regular-season games and fell out of the race for the league title, but a win at Grandview could mean a District 5 championship.
“I told the guys we played one of our worst games of the year and still pushed (Grandview) to a shootout. After that frustrating loss, we were so emotionally drained,” Huskies coach Bernie Garza said. “But after the win this weekend (3-2 over Selah in overtime), the guys’ attitude and enthusiasm are coming back.”
Garza said that a midseason injury to his starting sweeper has affected the team somewhat, but he is confident that his team can restore enough confidence to make a strong playoff run.
“We were losing 2-0 on Saturday, but I told the guys, ‘Once you get that first goal, the next one will come’ ” Garza said. “It’s the same thing with wins. Once you get that first one, the next one will come.”
Garza said the Greyhounds have a strong midfield that has the ability to keep the ball away from his forwards, but he’s counting on tapping into the offensive punch that led them to a 5-0 preseason win over Grandview.
“I’m looking forward to it. It’s kind of a redemption,” he said. “It’s like saying the game we played at home didn’t happen. This is our do-over.”
Pasco (12-5) at Central Valley (12-2), 6 p.m.: The two No. 1 seeds meet in Spokane with a state berth at stake. The Bulldogs won their first district title since 2009 on Saturday, but they have a serious challenge ahead against the Bears, who outscored teams 40-9 and finished third in the GSL. But Pasco, looking for its first state berth since 2011, will bring a defense that recorded nine shutouts.
Chiawana (10-7) at Ferris (13-2), 6 p.m.: A heartbreaking loss to Pasco in the district title game will be hard for the Riverhawks to forget, but it just might fire them up for the GSL champion Saxons. Ferris outscored teams 45- 5 this season but will get tested by Chiawana forward Cezar Leon (8 goals, 5 assists) and Uriel Arroyo (4 g, 4 a).
University (4-10) at Sunnyside (14-2), 5 p.m.: The Grizzlies are for real, according to Pasco coach Matt Potter, whose team suffered a 3-0 midseason loss in Sunnyside. The Griz, however, may need to sharpen their focus after losing two of their last three and giving up 14 goals in their last nine games.
Kamiakin (6-10) vs. Mt. Spokane (12-2), at Spokane Falls, 5:30 p.m.: The Braves face the top Class 3A seed in the GSL but have a history of upsets over the last few years. Jose Anguiano (8 g) is a three-time all-MCC selection who will combine with his brother Alberto to find opportunities.
Kennewick (11-5) vs. Shadle Park (6-8), at Spokane Falls, 7:30 p.m.: The Lions were on track to defend their 2013 MCC league title but hit a late-season snag with some unfortunate injuries and suspensions. But wins in their last two matches could put high-scoring Kennewick back in a zone.
Royal (11-6) at Highland (14-2), 4 p.m.: The Knights’ are looking to keep their three-year streak of qualifying for state alive, but they’ll have some resistance against the SCAC co-champ Scotties.
Wahluke (15-3) at Granger (14-2), 4 p.m.: The Warriors are playing with heavy hearts after the recent death of assistant coach Geir Dalan. But his memory could give inspiration to the five-time state champs.