(Shadow release) The reigning Evergreen Premier League champion Spokane Shadow plays host to Wenatchee FC Saturday evening at Spokane Falls CC Stadium at 7:00 pm.
With a season-opening victory at Wenatchee and a pair of wins against Yakima United, the Shadow are in position to make it a complete full season sweep of their opposition from this side of the state. The Shadow came from behind in Wenatchee in the first meeting to grab a 3-2 halftime lead before rolling off five unanswered in a stunning 8-2 win over the Capitals, who played Yakima to a 1-0 win and 3-3 draw in the two meetings between the central Washington rivals. Spokane swept Yakima 2-0 and 2-1.
Saturday’s match kicks off the team’s final three weeks of the campaign. Though trailing South Sound (8-1-3) in the table, the Shadow (7-1-2) have control in the title race with four games remaining to Shock’s two. South Sound pushed the actual gap to four points midweek with a narrow 1-0 win Wednesday at Vancouver that played a key role in the championship chase. The result eliminated Wenatchee (5-4-2) from contention and pushed third-place Vancouver (7-4-1) onto the ledge in the equation.
The Shadow’s offense continues to roll with at least two goals in each of their games during the current five-game win streak. Chance Bukoski has played a role in six of the 15 goals over that span with three goals and three assists.
“Pretty much wanted to get a W for the team, contribute. I didn’t really perform well in yesterday’s game so I really wanted to contribute to the team,” Bukoski said of the team’s 2-1 at Yakima in their last match two weeks ago. “I turned the guy and just gave it a whack. Fortunately it went in so I was stoked about that. Overall, I was happy the team got two wins, six points on the road so we’re looking good.”
Also contributing out of his midfield position has been Jesse Retan, who has scored in two of the last three.
“Just enjoying the football, loving the team and playing with the boys,” Retan said after the team’s last outing, a two-game road trip in which he scored and created the second goal in a 2-0 win at Vancouver. “I’ve been getting to be the old man of the group, guide these guys and make an impact. It’s just about the team and giving everything every day.”
The offense, though, continues to be a team effort and will be further tested with Karl Muelheims, who had scored in three consecutive games prior to suffering an injury at Vancouver, expected to miss the rest of the campaign. The team, shorthanded up top, came together and still picked up two wins on the road in the last outing, which garnered Defensive Player of the Week honors for Brady Ulen, who contributed a half of play at striker in Yakima.
“That’s something that I’ve thought about probably for about a couple weeks, you know… just in case,” head coach Chad Brown said of moving Ulen up top. “We had a couple guys that were supposed to go on the trip but couldn’t make it for whatever reason – some illness issues. We are a deep group. It’s hard to manage at times because my decisions are hard, but the guys have stuck with it and they come to compete every day. That’s something I have said before. They come to compete every day and do their jobs, and really just enjoy it. Makes it really enjoyable for myself for sure.”
The defense itself is also performing well with just five goals allowed in the last seven games. The team is tied with South Sound with four shutouts on the season and boasts the only goals-against average of 1.00 or less with just 10 allowed in 10 games. Jeff Srock and Tony Watters have played all but seven minutes in goal.
About the Opposition: Wenatchee FC
The Capitals are coming into the match on a five-game unbeaten streak (3-0-2) with a pair of draws in their last two outings against Yakima, 3-3, and Seattle Stars, 0-0. Their last win was a 1-0 victory against Vancouver. The team is highlighted by the league’s leading goal scorer Eleazar Galvan, who comes into the game with 11 goals – four more than a pair of Yakima players tied for second. The scoreless draw against Seattle was the third shutout of the season for Mauricio Sanchez, who is now tied with Chris Kintz (South Sound) for the league lead.
Coming Up – Road Trip – July 18 & 19
The club embarks on its final road trip of the season to play the Seattle Stars on Saturday and Bellingham United Sunday. Seattle is in a three-way tie for fifth with Yakima and Olympic with 12 points. Bellingham, through 10 games, still has not earned a point this season.
HOME & SEASON FINALE – July 25
The club wraps up the season at home against the league newcomers Olympic Force. Earlier in the season, Spokane posted a 3-0 victory against the Force in the league’s first-ever morning match after having played a scoreless draw the day before against South Sound.
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