TUKWILA -- You've heard of a shutout, the term given when a soccer team holds an opposing team scoreless.
The Columbia Basin College men's team is well familiar with that term, having recorded nine shutouts this season as the Hawks claimed their first NWAACC East region championship since 1999.
But the NWAACC should think about creating another term in honor of CBC's stalwart defense.
How about "shutdown"?
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The NWAACC names a Most Valuable Player for each of its four regions. So far, the Hawks defense has faced three of the four MVPs -- North MVP Nino Tursic of Whatcom, East MVP Andrew Mastronardi of Spokane, South MVP Luis Echeverria of Chemeketa -- and held them scoreless for a full 90 minutes. That's 55 goals-worth of combined productivity this season held to nothing, nada, zip.
That's a shutdown.
Today, the Hawks (12-3-4) will face West MVP Miguel Gonzalez, who scored 14 goals and added four assists for West champion Peninsula (11-3-4), in the NWAACC semifinals at 6:30 p.m. at Starfire Soccer Complex in Tukwila. CBC didn't have a regional MVP -- although coach Kyle Vierck did earn East coach of the year honors -- but the Hawks did place eight players on the East-West All-Star team.
"I'll take my guys any time," said Vierck, who won an NWAACC title as a CBC goalkeeper back in 1999. "We believe in our family. We believe in our preparation. What better thing is there to do than spend 90 minutes playing with your family?"
The Hawks' cohesiveness didn't happen overnight. It came after much deliberation and careful planning from Vierck, who took over as CBC coach in 2008 after coaching at Southridge and Hanford. Vierck, a military veteran who served with the U.S. Marines Corps, admitted it took time for his vision of team success to fully develop.
"In year one, I don't think I was quite in the right mind for what I wanted to do," he said. "I was trying to win instead of developing young people. If we were to have any sort of success, we had to make it about leading young men."
Vierck started with 6 a.m. workouts in the cold winter months, but that was just one part of the plan. He also wanted to help build up their minds.
A small group of players -- including captains Abel Bautista, Corey Chandler and Daniel Valencia -- would gather at Vierck's home once a week to have dinner and study John C. Maxwell's book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. The book helped give the group a new perspective on personal growth and insight into the team dynamic Vierck hoped to attain.
"It's helped me grow so much as an individual," said Valencia, a former Kennewick player who often refers back to the book for inspiration. "It's been worth it to be a part of it."
Vierck said Chandler, a sophomore out of Ashland, Ore., is a perfect example of the type of player and person who exemplifies his vision of success at CBC -- a fully-rounded student-athlete.
"He's the heart of what we're doing here," Vierck said. "He's the son I don't have yet."
Chandler joined teammates Bautista, Valencia, Ricky Chicas, Tanner Crass, Raul Farias, Gavin Richter and Merced Rodriguez on the East All-Star team. The hard work they put in has paid off, but there's still one more weekend of work to go.
"If anyone asked if this team could go this far, only 30 people would have said yes," Chandler said of CBC's players and coaches. "We believe in each other, and that's all that matters."
Walla Walla women (18-0-2) vs. Bellevue (13-2-4), 1:30 p.m., Starfire Complex: NWAACC scoring leader Margo Hickman (27 goals, 8 assists) leads the defending champion Warriors, who reached the NWAACC championship game for the sixth consecutive year under coach Chad Bodnar and outscored teams by an astonishing 87-9 with 11 shutouts.