Title destiny changes hands as Spokane, Seattle claim big wins

“Title Tilt Thursday” was everything EPLWA followers could have asked for. Neutrals following the new league are likely shaking their heads with a smile today as the ultra-tight title race has taken yet another turn.

#12 Mike Ramos gets behind the Vancouver defense to score the match-winner as Spokane beat Vancouver 2-1 on Thursday night. (David Falk)
#12 Mike Ramos gets behind the Vancouver defense to score the match-winner as Spokane beat Vancouver 2-1 on Thursday night. (David Falk)

In Lakewood Seattle Stars FC continued their late-season surge by shocking first place holders South Sound 2-0. In Vancouver Spokane nudged the Victory 2-1. The results move the control of destiny east of the Cascades to Spokane. See a Shock-Stars match gallery here.

Seattle has relied on the work of Buba Jammeh and Wyatt Hill this year. The pair have scored 7 of the Stars’ 21 goals after they both came through for Seattle on Thursday night. Jammeh gave the visitors the lead in the 47th and then Hill made the night complete and put the Shock in peril with a finisher in the 89th.

Seattle (white / blue) knocked off South Sound on July 10th, 2-0. (David Miller)
Seattle (white / blue) knocked off South Sound on July 10th, 2-0. (David Miller)

The Stars are now gaining on Yakima and Wenatchee with 13 points and a 4-7-1 record. South Sound is in a late-season spiral. Despite still clinging on to first place on 25 points with a better goal differential than Vancouver, the Shock have lost two straight while scoring just one goal. South Sound is 8-3-1 with 25 points with away matches to come at Bellingham July 18 and at Vancouver July 20.

In Vancouver a spectacle played out under sunny skies and warm temperatures. 425 fans were aboard the Victory Ship to see the home side drop a 2-1 decision to the Spokane Shadow. The win gives Spokane control over their own destiny. It won’t be an easy task, but if the Shadow win their last three matches no one can catch them for the crown. That task starts tonight with what might be the biggest hurdle for the Shadow, a rivalry match at Yakima.

Guess who came up big and had a say in the title race? Seattle Stars FC pose before their 2-0 win Thursday night at South Sound. (Facebook)
Guess who came up big and had a say in the title race? Seattle Stars FC pose before their 2-0 win Thursday night at South Sound. (Facebook)

MATCH PHOTOS: David Falk shares a Vancouver-Spokane gallery on the league Facebook page

EVERGREEN PREMIER LEAGUE Pts GP W L T GF GA GD
SOUTH SOUND FC 25 12 8 3 1 20 11 +9
VANCOUVER VICTORY FC 25 13 8 4 1 31 23 +8
SPOKANE SHADOW 23 11 7 2 2 21 11 +10
BELLINGHAM UNITED 19 12 6 5 1 28 24 +4
YAKIMA UNITED FC 16 13 5 7 1 32 36 -4
WENATCHEE UNITED FC 15 12 5 7 0 25 27 -2
SEATTLE STARS FC 13 12 4 7 1 21 24 -3
WESTSOUND FC 7 13 2 10 1 11 33 -22

The first half was scoreless in Vancouver, and the match needed a goal to get into gear. That goal came for the Shadow at the 57 minute mark. Derek Zimmerman provided the boost.

“Juan (Valderrama) put in a ball into the corner and Mikey (Ramos) kind of screened for me and I got away from my defender and put it away into the back post,” Zimmerman said in the Shadow match press release. The header easily cleared the defense into the left corner of the net.

Vancouver immediately built a response in a series of chances that went wanting and might have required quicker decisions. One such moment saw Jordan Jones alone at the top of the box but unable to shoot until a toe-poke try was blocked by goalkeeper Andrew Glaesar.

Mike Ramos races a Vancouver defender down the sideline at McKenzie Stadium. (David Falk)
Mike Ramos races a Vancouver defender down the sideline at McKenzie Stadium. (David Falk)

The Shadow’s leading scorer made the Victory task all the greater. Mike Ramos made it 2-0 Spokane in the 66th on an assist from Aaron Jeffreys. Ramos now has seven.

Vancouver would not die, and they got one back in the 75h when Jamoy Stevens worked down the left side of the box, and just as he was headed out over the endline, shot through Glaeser and into the back of the net (see photo sequence.) It was Stevens’ first of the season.

Both sides shared few but equal chances the rest of the way and Spokane got their biggest win as an EPLWA side so far.

The Shadow improve to 7-2-2 with 23 points and matches left tonight at Yakima and next weekend at home against Seattle and Wenatchee. Vancouver falls to 8-4-1 with a single match left July 20 at home against South Sound.

Jamoy Stevens Vancouver goal sequence by David Falk:

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