Friday, June 22, 2012

Emerald City rallies to tie Portland 2-2; Rain head to Spokane tied for first

Even if the Spokane Shine won the four remaining home games, they were going to need a little help from opponents of Issaquah and Portland. They got that Friday evening when Emerald City rallied from two goals down late in the second half to earn a 2-2 draw on the road against the Portland Rain, whom the Shine play host to Saturday afternoon - 3:00 pm PT at Joe Albi Stadium.

The Rain were playing in Vancouver, Washington at the Kiggins Bowl as part of a doubleheader with the Portland Timbers U23's - both sides are development affiliates of the MLS Timbers.

No good opportunities came for either side in the first half-hour with physical play between the two teams. Then three minutes before the break a Nicole Strong free kick from the flank was nodded back in front of goal where Ellie Boone knocked it past the keeper, who had fallen to the ground, for her third goal of the season.

Strong, the team captain and former Washington State standout, doubled the lead with a 25-yard blast on the hour mark after Aurora Bodenhamer had stolen the ball.[profile on Strong in The Columbian]

Then Emerald City began a fantastic late rally. A corner kick in the 72nd minute created a scramble that saw goalkeeper Chris Lewis make two saves only to see Heather Thomas take the ball through the Portland defense and drive it past the diving keeper.

Five minutes later Casey Berrier picked up a quality through ball up the middle, rounded the keeper charging keeper and leveled terms for the visitors.

The Rain are now in a tie for first in the WPSL Northwest Division with the Shine. Both sides, who meet for the first time this season Saturday, have a 2-1-2 record at the halfway point. They are one point ahead of Issaquah SC (2-1-1), who are in action earlier Saturday at 1:00 pm PT on the road against the winless Oregon Rush.