PASCO -- Columbia Basin College men's soccer coach Kyle Vierck was naturally pleased that Saturday's 1-0 NWAACC East win over Walla Walla Community College came in front of the Hawks' home crowd.
But a bigger source of pride for Vierck this season has been that CBC soccer has once again found a home in Pasco.
"I'm excited to be a part of this family. We have a roster of 26 guys believing in what we're doing," said Vierck, a former Hawks goalkeeper who helped CBC bring home the 1999 NWAACC men's championship. "When I started coaching here two years ago we had no identity. Now we have an identity."
It certainly showed as the Hawks held off the Warriors' gallant push over the final 15 minutes despite being down one man after defender Daniel Valencia was sent off in the 75th minute with a soft red card. Valencia picked up his second yellow after his hard tackle of Walla Walla forward Marco Acevedo just outside the CBC penalty box.
"Daniel plays aggressively, and sometimes he pays for it," Vierck said. "But we were able to keep our composure and stay tight in back."
CBC (8-2-1, 6-0-0 East, 18 points) earned three points and took over sole possession of first place. Walla Walla (8-2-1, 5-1-1, 16) fell into third place behind Treasure Valley (6-4-3, 5-1-2, 17), which beat Wenatchee Valley 3-0.
The Hawks picked up the only goal in the match in the 21st minute as midfielder Gavin Richter lined a cross from the right wing to the far side, where midfielder Ricky Chicas was making a run to the left post. Chicas arrived just before the defender did, redirecting the ball past Warriors goalkeeper Josh Lindsay.
"I just had to make it. I had to score. We've been rivals (with Walla Walla) since I got here," said Chicas, a sophomore who has been a key part of CBC's emergence over the last two seasons. Saturday, he faced several of his former Pasco High School teammates -- seven to be exact -- which gave him a bit of an edge in preparation.
"I already know how they play," he said.
Though the Warriors outshot the Hawks 20-11, keeper Abel Bautista helped CBC keep a clean sheet in front of his back four of Valencia, Merced Rodriguez, Tanner Crass and Daniel Helsley.
"Honestly, I think the better team won today, even though we were down a man. All the credit goes to coach Vierck for preparing us," Bautista said after CBC's second straight home win over Walla Walla dating back to last season. "Playing at home gives us a little more heart."
Scoring--1, CBC, Ricky Chicas (Gavin Richter), 21:00. Shots--WW 20, CBC 11. Saves--WW, Josh Lindsay 4. CBC, Abel Bautista 6.
Walla Walla women 4, CBC 1
PASCO -- No need to give extra points to Walla Walla for a quick start. The Warriors can put up enough points on their own.
But after scoring two goals in the first four minutes against CBC, it seemed like the defending NWAACC champion Warriors definitely had the Hawks' number.
"I've been emphasizing the need to start our matches strong," Walla Walla coach Chad Bodnar said.
He couldn't have asked for more from Samantha Johnson, who scored on a free kick from 35 yards in the first minute thanks in part to some confusion by the Hawks defense and goalie Megan Carreras.
"That was a merry Christmas in the first five minutes," CBC coach Matt Mills said. "It's disappointing, because it takes the wind out of your sails right away."
Johnson later added another goal in the second half, bending a corner kick from the left side just inside the near post, where it bounced off of keeper Olivia Diaz's hands and into the goal.
"This is my first year at Walla Walla, but you always hear talk about how CBC is going to beat us," Johnson said. "This win feels really good."
The Hawks cut the lead to 2-1 on a penalty kick by Casey Demory in the 53rd minute after the Warriors were called for a handball inside their 18-yard box. With that momentum, CBC outplayed Walla Walla for a 20-minute stretch before the Warriors put the game away with two more goals.
"You can't take anything away from them," Demory said. "Every time you lose a game, you learn something from it. Next time we play we have to go out hard."
Scoring--1, WW, Samantha Johnson, 1:00; 2, WW, Justine Jones (PK), 4:00; 3, CBC, Casey Demory (PK), 53:00; 4, WW, Johnson, 75:00; 5, Kaylie Winston, 79:00. Shots--WW 21, CBC 6. Saves--WW, Jordan Simkins 0. CBC, Megan Carreras 1, Olivia Diaz (28:00), 4.