Hoppers continue pre-season with Gonzaga challenge in Spokane

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SPOKANE, WA—Just two weeks into preseason, the Evergreen Premier League’s Yakima United were still trying to find their feet as they played a visit to the Gonzaga University Bulldogs Saturday afternoon in Spokane, Wash., falling 3-1 in a contest in which the collegiate side’s team familiarity and fitness made them clear winners in the friendly.

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Yakima faced some Spokane Shadow players on the Zags roster, including Graison Le (at left). (Gerald Barnhart)

inwsn-linkby Gerald Barnhart / INWSoccerNews.com

Jakob Granlund set the tone early and continued to be a nuisance for the visitors through the contest, kicking things off with a fantastic laser just three minutes in from about 28 yards out that caromed in off the underside of the crossbar. Full Gallery [+]

A corner about 16 minutes in led to the second goal for the Bulldogs. The initial ball went long to the back post, but the header on goal ricocheted inside the six and was knocked in back toward the near post by a player crashing in on the follow-through.

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The Vegas: Hector (Head Coach) and Josh (General Manager) watch as the Hoppers challenge the Zags. (Gerald Barnhart)

Just before the half-hour mark the Zags pushed the lead to three.

The Bulldogs looked certain to make it four with another early chance in the second half when a pair of Hoppers tackled a Bulldog at the outer corner of the area, sending the hosts to the spot. Antonio Gonzalez, however, denied the attempt with the rebound being set high over the goal on the second attempt.

Struggling to find a rhythm and connect with one another to build up, Yakima found themselves continually searching to find some quick success with balls up the flank or up the middle as the match wore on and legs ran out.

They finally found paydirt around the 57th minute when standout striker Junior Garcia, one of the league’s top scorers a year ago, found himself behind the back line. He proceeded to take the ball into the area, beating the keeper a few yards in and slotting the ball into the open net past a defender crashing in at the last moment.

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Junior Garcia breaks through for Yakima’s lone goal of the pre-season friendly. (Gerald Barnhart)

The match was Yakima’s second of the preseason. After holding tryouts on the 15th, they visited the Portland Spartans of the National Premier Soccer League last Saturday. The schedule features at least one more contest as they host Allianza FC of Tri-Cities April 11.

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