The Evergreen Premier League today announces the honorees of the first week of play with the #HometownSoccer Players of the Week awards for May 5, 2018. Tri-Cities Alliance FC midfielder Jason Rodriguez (offense) and goalkeeper Tonio Gonzalez (defense) were voted by league head coaches and general managers as worthy of note for their standout contributions in TCAFC’s 3-2 away win at Spokane Shadow.
History was made for Tri-Cities just by taking the pitch in the EPLWA for the first time on Saturday May 5 at Spokane Falls CC Stadium. Over the rest of the night the Lions wrote their own version of events thanks to the Players of the Week. Tonio Gonzalez made 6 crucial saves, none bigger than a first-half penalty kick stop. Late in the match the Lions grabbed all three points when Jason Rodriguez scored in added time to win it, 3-2.
“Before the kick I was a little fired up because I didn’t agree with the ref’s decision,” Tonio Gonzalez answered when asked about that penalty kick save. “So, after he set the ball down, I was focused on getting in the shooter’s head. I let him set the ball down, then I moved it and told him I knew where he was shooting already. I focused on the ball and gave him a little fake to a side and reacted to his shot. Once I made the save, it was like the cherry on top! I heard and saw how my teammates were all pumped and it just got us going.”
Just before the final whistle sounded, winger Uriel Arroyo crossed the ball into the box and, after a deflection off a Spokane player, it fell right to the feet of TCAFC midfielder Jason Rodriguez. Rodriguez knew exactly what to do and launched a shot into the lower right corner of the goal, past the diving Shadow keeper. In the 92nd minute, the Lions went up 3-2 and held on until the whistle sounded.
“It meant a ton, actually,” Rodriguez responded when asked about scoring the game winning goal. “It will be a memorable one for me personally just because it was important for us to get these first three points season. Also, scoring is always a huge joy, but scoring when the game is tied and there’s no time on the clock makes it more special and memorable.”