Columbia Basin College

Top-ranked CBC men entertain Chemeketa

PASCO -- Let's face it, November is not an ideal time to be playing soccer.

There's scarcely enough time after classes to hold a productive practice before darkness sets in.

And the weather? You might as well be playing in a refrigerator.

But to Kyle Vierck, Columbia Basin College men's coach, November is the perfect time to be on the pitch.

Last year, his team was denied both the NWAACC East region championship and a postseason berth on the final day of the regular season, a memory that still lingers for many of the team's 11 sophomores.

This year, CBC (11-3-4) -- which is ranked No. 1 in the latest coaches poll -- won the East region title and earned a first-round bye in the NWAACC playoffs.

Today, the Hawks will face Chemeketa (16-3-2) in the NWAACC quarterfinals at 2 p.m. at the CBC soccer field in Pasco.

"The back of my neck is freezing cold, but it's awesome to still be coaching," Vierck said. "We're really excited to play. I think we have a pretty good horse in the race (today)."

The Storm was the top goal producer in the NWAACC this year with 79 -- an average of 3.76 a game -- and brings three of the NWAACC's top six scorers in Luis Echeverria (19 goals, 10 assists), Brian Avila (15 g, 18 a) and Felipe Heredia (12 g, 8 a).

"Avila and Echeverria are very fast, and they'll try to counter at any opportunity because of their speed," Vierck said. "The thing we have to do is be as sound as possible. If they go on the counter, we have to clear it out and get back behind the ball."

The Hawks' top scorers are Raul Farias (6 g, 2 a) and Gavin Richter (5 g, 4 a).

One of CBC's primary strengths this year has been locking opposing players down on defense. Thanks to the Hawks' stubborn back third, the team recorded eight shutouts and allowed one or fewer goals in 14 of their 17 games.

Chemeketa beat CBC 3-1 in a preseason matchup in early September, but Vierck feels like his team is ready to respond in the Hawks' first playoff appearance since 2006.

"We're going against an outstanding opponent, but we've got a really good game plan," he said. "I'm as proud of the coaching staff as I've ever been, because we're really prepared for this game."

CBC women (11-5-4) at Clackamas (15-2-0), Oregon City High School, 6 p.m.

The Hawks are feeling good after a 2-1 overtime win at home over Highline in the first round and now take their act on the road. One more win secures CBC its third straight trip to the NWAACC semifinals.

Clackamas -- ranked No. 2 in the last coaches poll -- is one of the most dangerous teams in the NWAACC and features South Region MVP Jennifer Jackson (21 g, 4 a). CBC is led by a defense that has allowed just six goals in the last 10 games.

Lane women (11-5-2) at Walla Walla (17-0-2), noon

Margo Hickman (26 g, 8 a), the NWAACC's leading scorer, and Pasco's Kaylie Winston (16 g, 6 a) will lead the defending NWAACC champion Warriors in the first leg of their title defense.

Lane is led by midfielder Katie Bidwell (8 g, 10 a).