State of the EPLWA: Defenses shine as clubs experience title race traffic

Welcome to the State of the EPLWA, a weekly update that will be posted early in the week during the regular seasonSee previous editions here.

The four Evergreen Premier League matches last weekend combined to produce just 7 goals as defenses clamped down and the title race traffic was stop and go.

stateoftheEPLWAIt was a weekend where we can talk about shut outs. There were three of them as Spokane blanked South Sound, Wenatchee blanked WestSound and South Sound blanked Seattle.

Wenatchee goalkeeper Colin Benham-Marin became the first to record back-to-back shut outs in the EPLWA. Just an hour behind him in Spokane Andrew Glaeser matched the accomplishment with his own two-match shut out streak. On Sunday night in Seattle, South Sound goalkeeper Chris Kintz shut out the Stars to record his third clean sheet overall, tops in the circuit.

In the title race things are just as wide open as ever. On Saturday the day began with the South Sound Shock in first place. The Spokane Shadow knocked them out and took a share of second place on the day as Vancouver won in Yakima to ascend to the top. On Sunday the Shock beat Seattle to retake the lead, leaving Vancouver just one point behind and Spokane just three points back in third place.

LAST WEEK: Wenatchee 2-0 WestSound, Yakima 1-2 Vancouver, Spokane 1-0 South Sound, South Sound 1-0 Seattle.

THIS WEEK: Saturday June 28: Vancouver at WestSound 6 PM, Yakima at South Sound 7 PM, Wenatchee at Bellingham 7:30 PM. Sunday June 29: Yakima at WestSound 4 PM, Wenatchee at Seattle 7 PM.

South Sound goalkeeper Chris Kintz poses with his West Coast Goalkeeping gloves. Kintz leads the EPLWA with three shut outs. (David Falk)
South Sound goalkeeper Chris Kintz poses with his West Coast Goalkeeping gloves. Kintz leads the EPLWA with three shut outs. (David Falk)
Colin Benham-Marin is the first goalkeeper to record back-to-back shut outs in the EPLWA. (Kelly Gillin)
Colin Benham-Marin is the first goalkeeper to record back-to-back shut outs in the EPLWA. (Kelly Gillin)
On Saturday Andrew Glaeser became the second goalkeeper to record back-to-back shut outs in the EPLWA. (Erik Smith)
On Saturday Andrew Glaeser became the second goalkeeper to record back-to-back shut outs in the EPLWA. (Erik Smith)

This week we will look at our eight clubs in current standings order and will also include their total remaining possible points. Using possible points we can see who holds a “matches in hand” advantage as well as the highest possible finish for each side.

buttonsssfc-500SOUTH SOUND FC (Total possible points: 37)

The Shock have five matches remaining. If they win them all, they win the league. That’s a tall order for any club, but South Sound does have a bit of a cushion. Vancouver and Bellingham have already played ten matches. Spokane also has five left to go, but they trail the Shock by three points. It’s not much breathing room, but it is some. The Shock are happy to hang on to the top spot for another week. They have been pushing their player pool to its limit recently. “Overall, we need to get back together as a team,” says owner John Crouch. “Splitting up to go to nationals and then to  take care of EPLWA after a weekend off left us a little disconnected. We will look to get back into form this week as we have a huge game on Saturday against Yakima.”

75tnv2fc-full-color-crestVANCOUVER VICTORY FC (Total possible points: 33)

The Victory are the comeback / cardiac kids of the EPLWA. They keep winning matches in stoppage time. With only four left to play the Vancouver side has no room for error, but they do get to face off against their fellow contenders. After a trip to WestSound FC this Saturday they play Spokane twice and finish at home against South Sound. Last weekend they got just their second win of the year away from home, and as you might guess it came on a stoppage time goal in Yakima.

buttonsshadow-sc-crop-2SPOKANE SHADOW (Total possible points: 34)

The Shadow knew that to stay with South Sound they had to beat them last Saturday. Mission accomplished as they scored in the late stages to take that match 1-0 before over 700 fans at Spokane Falls CC. Now the Shadow are done with the Shock for the season after taking the series with a win and a draw. Next up is a break followed by crucial back-to-back matches with Vancouver on July 6th and 10th. South Sound has one more win right now, so the Shadow (just like the Victory) will need some help from other clubs to win it all. Of course they will also have to take care of their own business.

SOUTH SOUND FC 22 9 7 1 1 17 6 +11
VANCOUVER VICTORY FC 21 10 7 3 0 25 16 +7
SPOKANE SHADOW 19 9 6 2 1 18 9 +9
BELLINGHAM UNITED FC 16 10 5 4 1 24 16 +8
WENATCHEE UNITED FC 12 9 4 5 0 19 17 +2
YAKIMA UNITED FC 10 10 3 6 1 23 32 -9
WESTSOUND FC 7 10 2 7 1 6 22 -16
SEATTLE STARS FC 4 9 1 7 1 10 22 -12
The Shadow celebrate Graison Le's winner against South Sound. (Gerald Barnhart)
The Shadow celebrate Graison Le’s winner against South Sound. (Gerald Barnhart)

buttonsbufc-clearBELLINGHAM UNITED FC (Total possible points: 28)

The Hammers had last week off but they still lost ground to all of the contenders. Bellingham’s total possible points tells the story. Five wins out of ten matches played has left them on the outside fringes of the race. Even if they sweep the rest of their season (four matches) and get to 28 points, they would need a near total collapse by South Sound to catch them. They do end the season by hosting South Sound, but by then the match might have title implications for just one of the sides. This weekend will see a battle for the middle as Wenatchee, winners of three straight, visit Bellingham. WUFC sits four points behind the Hammers.

WUFC Gold fb iconWENATCHEE UNITED FC (Total possible points: 27)

The recent run of form has kept the Capitals on the razor’s edge of title elimination. That’s still an accomplishment for a side that started slowly and now has won three in a row, including consecutive shut outs. If WUFC wins through they would finish on 27 points and that might be good enough for 4th in the table. College of Idaho grad Colin Benham-Marin is a tall presence in goal, joining Wenatchee mid-season and now contributing the first back-to-back shut outs in EPLWA history. The Capitals can take a big step forward as an organization with a positive result Saturday in Bellingham.

R2300-whole-crestYAKIMA UNITED FC (Total possible points: 25 )

The free-fall of negative results continued for the Hoppers last weekend. They battled valiantly and frustrated the Vancouver Victory, but in the end two late goals were their doom. The last YUFC win was on May 30th at home against WestSound. This weekend the Hoppers have two away contests and chances to break their skid. Saturday night they are at South Sound and late Sunday afternoon they are at WestSound FC. Hector Valdovinos is still second in the league in goals, but he hasn’t notched one during the current club drought. Jesse Esquivel has been knocking them in, now with three overall.

The Victory and Hoppers played another thriller. Vancouver won it again, and again it was in stoppage time. (Braulio Herrera)
The Victory and Hoppers played another thriller. Vancouver won it again, and again it was in stoppage time. (Braulio Herrera)

buttons300wsfcWESTSOUND FC (Total possible points: 19)

WestSound has been eliminated from the title race. If they catch fire and win out they could finish with as many as 19 points. Right now they stand on 7, and the issue for the Silverdale side is lack of scoring. The club’s -16 goal differential is the widest in the EPLWA. While individual moments of hope have occurred, and the club continues to battle in close contests, they don’t have the offensive production to pull out victories. Never-the-less this is a big weekend in the history of the young club. They will host back-to-back matches at Silverdale Stadium at the same time that the youth club is hosting the annual WestSound Summer Classic. Tickets will be distributed to teams in that tournament and one of the men’s matches is part of the closing ceremonies. Saturday at 6 PM Vancouver visits. Sunday at 4 PM Yakima is in Silverdale.

buttonsstars-logo-new-575SEATTLE STARS FC (Total possible points: 19)

The Stars did not expect such a tough first season in the EPLWA. This winning organization has trophies in both statewide and Starfire Premier League play. It’s been a year of learning for the Tukwila team. They lost a good portion of their starters to local NPSL clubs. They went with a no-college players philosophy under head coach Alex Kajumulo. Now they have released Alex from those duties and are building for next year. Either way, the club remains competitive and is losing matches in the most heart-breaking fashion: late or even stoppage time goals. The goal differential tells the story. The Stars are losing their matches by an average of about 2-1.


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