SPOKANE, WA (club release)—The reigning Evergreen Premier League champion Spokane Shadow, now unbeaten in its last eight, took advantage of fellow title contender South Sound’s draw earlier in the day by rallying for a 2-1 victory Saturday night at Spokane Falls CC Stadium against Wenatchee FC. The result completed a season sweep for the Shadow against central Washington foes Wenatchee and Yakima.
The Shadow held the better of play in the opening stages of the contest, applying much of the offensive pressure, but the visitors capitalized on one of their few offensive forays to take the lead in the 24th minute when Yonatan Rodriguez took a ball from league-leading scorer Eleazar Galvan on the left side and put a ball past his defender and inside the far post.
Eleven minutes later, however, Chance Bukoski (above, center) was fouled on the left side of the area as the Shadow maintained its continued attack. The Hawaiian buried his penalty into the lower left corner out of Mauricio Sanchez’s reach for his fourth goal in the last six games.
“No question about it, the group has tons of character,” Shadow head coach Chad Brown said of his team coming from behind for the win. “It’s just trying to put ourselves in situations where we don’t have to show that character coming from behind. If we can start with the character piece and dominate and dictate the game at the beginning – that’s more of what I am looking for. Again, hats off to the guys for coming out in the second half and tuning into the game and battling and getting it done.”
“I don’t usually talk about the other team hardly at all, but I talked about them for a blurb before the game. They were undefeated in five and have a handful of shutouts in those games and have the leading scorer in the league – that’s a potent thing, especially when there is a target on our back. We talked about it – maybe I shouldn’t have because we started a little slow, but at the end of the day the guys came through with their character and showed what they are all about.”
Six minutes into the second half another foul led to the game-winner when Kazuki Tateishi was knocked down at the outer left edge of the box. Dustin Ferger’s free kick was stopped by the goalkeeper, but the ball rebounded down into the six and Brady Ulen (above, left) buried it into the back of the net from a couple yards out. The goal was the third of the season for Ulen, who will have to sit out the next match for receiving a yellow card for the third consecutive game.
“We’ve got a huge target on our backs this year because other teams don’t want us to win it all again,” Ulen said of the difficult matches the team has had to fight through. “We know every team is going to bring their best game against us so it comes down to dedication and heart. We are all playing for each other, our fans, and the staff we have. Not a single person out there gives up and it’s truly a team effort from start to finish. I can’t say enough about my team and the effort they give day in and day out.
“As far as the goal I scored, Chad stresses the fact that we need to crash the box every time no matter if its a shot, a cross, or a throw in. It doesn’t matter – there best be someone crashing the box and that’s what I did. It was a great shot from Dustin Ferger that the keeper couldn’t handle and I just put it away. Right place, right time.”
Spokane created several more opportunities to expand the lead, but either narrowly missed the mark or were denied by offside calls. Lengthy stoppage time that drew jeers from the fans as the referee went beyond the signaled four minutes nearly resulted in an equalizer for Wenatchee as they took last-ditch efforts to tie it up, but goalkeeper Tony Watters was able to corral the ball on two occasions to secure the victory.
The Shadow are now 7-1-0 in two seasons against their central Washington foes with the lone blemish a late 3-2 home loss to Yakima in the second game of 2014.
Holding two games in hand and the head-to-head tiebreaker with South Sound (8-1-4), the Shadow (8-1-2) need only five points from its final three games to repeat as the EPLWA champions. Spokane currently sits two points back of the league-leaders, who are idle next week.
|EVERGREEN PREMIER LEAGUE – 2015 (Through July 11)||Pts||GP||W||L||T||GF||GA||GD|
|SOUTH SOUND FC||28||13||8||1||4||35||17||+18|
|VANCOUVER VICTORY FC||22||12||7||4||1||28||13||+15|
|YAKIMA UNITED FC||15||13||4||6||3||26||28||-2|
|SEATTLE STARS FC||12||11||3||5||3||16||22||-6|
|BELLINGHAM UNITED FC||1||11||0||10||1||12||40||-28|
Coming Up – Road Trip – July 18 & 19
The club embarks on what could be an eventful, but tough road trip next week with a pair of afternoon matches against the Seattle Stars (3-5-3) and Bellingham United (0-10-1). Seattle earned a 1-1 draw in Spokane earlier this season in the Shadow’s second game of the campaign while the Hammers fell 4-1 in Spokane three weeks ago.
Season & Home Finale – July 25
The Shadow play host to league newcomers Olympic Force, who are rebounding from a slow start and are making a push to potentially finish fourth in the league. The game kicks off at 7:00 pm.
Wenatchee FC 1 :: 2 Spokane Shadow
WEN: Yonatan Rodriguez (Eleazar Galvan) 24
SPO: Chance Bukoski (penalty) 35
SPO: Brady Ulen 51
WEN: Francisco Medina (caution) 35, Mauricio Sanchez (caution) 61, Eduardo Perez (caution) 88
SPO: Brady Ulen (caution) 41, Kyle Higgins (caution) 71, Higgins (caution / ejection) 84