The Evergreen Premier League has completed its fifth week of play with seven of eight clubs in action. This week there were a whopping 22 goals scored but there were also numerous saves, take-aways, tackles, moments of admirable teamwork and individual stand-out plays.
Two players are honored this week for their performances, which elevated them above the crowd and into the books as our Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week. Jesse Esquivel (Yakima United, Offense) and Nick Rasmussen (Olympic Force, Defense) are this week’s choices. As a part of this recognition both will receive unique, custom EPLWA socks designed especially for the league by Rock’em Apparel.
There were many good candidates for Players of the Week this week. While the league got just 11 goals a week ago, this time out there were twice that many. Even with all the goals there was also a shut out. Certainly Vincent McCluskey of South Sound FC deserves mention for his second-half hat trick against Wenatchee, as does Jacob Rhoads, who secured Yakima United’s league-leading second shut out in goal. In the end though two other guys did just enough to get the socks as they helped their clubs to new heights and a first-ever league win.
OFFENSE: Jesse Esquivel (forward) leads the Evergreen Premier League in goals with six. Half of those came on Sunday at Marquette Stadium in Yakima as the Hoppers beat Bellingham United 4-0. To make his performance even more impressive, the one YUFC goal he didn’t score – the match winner by Hector Valdovinos – Jesse provided the assist on.
“Jesse is a goal scorer plain and simple,” says Yakima United General Manager Josh Vega. “He’s got a knack for being in the right places at the right times and works very hard to get there. He’s actually been very consistent. It took him a bit last season but once he got going he scored six goals in the second half of the season and he’s just continuing that same form.”
On Sunday Esquivel dished out the winning assist in the 33rd minute. Then in the second half he got two from the run of play and another from the penalty spot. “He gets a lot of scrappy goals but I think by the end of the season people will see what a great shot he has from distance as well. Jesse is the perfect example of someone maybe being on the fringe but working hard and taking his chances and earning his spot,” Vega says.
Yakima United’s forward tandem now leads the league with 9 total goals. “Jesse and Hector have developed a very good partnership. They respect each other and push each other. But they both want to be the top scorer and I think we’re lucky to have two guys like that,” says Vega.
DEFENSE: Nick Rasmussen waited for his first chance of 2015. When it came, he was ready. Last season Nick saw action for the WestSound FC Men in the EPLWA. This year the Olympic Force took over the Kitsap-area entry. The fresh start for the club saw Rasmussen outside the lines for the first three home matches, practicing but allotted to the reserves. On Saturday at Quil Ceda Stadium in Marysville Nick got the call in the Force starting 11 for the first time, and he delivered a Player of the Week performance as Olympic won their first-ever EPLWA match 2-1 over Seattle Stars FC.
“Nick was part of the reserve team for start of season but he got his first minutes/start against the Stars and was arguably the best player on the field. No defensive or passing mistakes,” says Mitchell James, who took over the head coaching duties from Kevin Skinner for this match.
The Force needed that kind of performance. In their three home matches to kick off their life in the EPLWA they had given up ten goals. Against a Seattle side that came in with a winning record and a grasp on third place in the table, the Force turned the tables with a 2-0 halftime lead. Then it was hold-on time for Olympic.
“In the second half we were under a lot of pressure with about 20 minutes to go on our left side. Nick was moved to right back and we shut down more of their opportunities. In the second half he was defending like a Trojan,” James describes.
“We had them resorting to a lot of long balls after we stuck him in at right back. Nick had no problem whatsoever dealing with those long balls.”
About the POTW Honors
The Evergreen Premier League will be selecting an offensive and defensive Player of the Week each week during the 2015 season. The Players of the Week will be acknowledged with a pair of custom, unique socks featuring the EPLWA logo. The socks are from Rock’Em Apparel, the Official Provider of the weekly reward. The league worked with Rock’Em Apparel to finalize the look of the socks. The league logo is complemented by a rendering of George Washington in the State seal.
The phrase “Rock ‘Em” represents the willingness to achieve greatness; to go above and beyond limits,” says www.RockEmApparel.com.