Saturday, June 23, 2012

Portland Rain wins battle for first, blank Spokane Shine 2-0

Photos: Gerald Barnhart - - Facebook Gallery | Full Gallery
Despite playing in a late afternoon match the day before and traveling from Portland to take the field again within 24 hours, the Portland Rain came in organized and snared a 2-0 victory against the Spokane Shine to claim sole possession of first place in the WPSL Northwest Division Saturday afternoon.

The play early on in the contest was clearly in Portland’s favor most of the first half as they moved the ball around well and denied the Shine attack any feasible scoring opportunities.

A strike just eight minutes in allowed the visitors to continue to dictate the terms of play. A loose ball in the offensive third for Portland was picked up and sent out wide to Natalie Meiggs, who delivered a low cross in from the left flank that made its way through the defenders in the box to Elizabeth Boone, who charged in on the far side and put it past Stephanie Busch.
Lisa Robertson
It took a half-hour for the Shine to get its first decent opportunity. Tseng Shu-O gathered the ball at midfield and released Brittney Conway with a through ball through the defense. Goalkeeper Madison McNamara, however, won the race to the ball, winning the challenge 23 yards out.

A minute before the break the Shine nearly equalized when Stacy Hamer dropped the ball back and in from the left flank to Lisa Robertson, who let loose a shot from 35 yards out that narrowly missed the far post.

Spokane came out with new ambition in the second half and took advantage of a Rain side that looked initially like it wanted to slow the game down to a crawl. Three consecutive opportunities in the first four minutes made it look like the Shine were going to find the equalizer.

A quick series of play in the 47th resulted in a quality shot from Alyssa Saucedo from 25 yards out. A minute later Kara Marbury also had a good chance to knot it up. The resulting play from a corner kick in the 49th finished up with defender Maggie Schrader nicely turning and firing just wide from 17 yards out.

Brittney Conway
The Shine did not let up as the ball movement proved to be a little more successful for stretches in the second half. On a counter in the 58th Saucedo got the ball on the left side and slotted it in behind the defense to an onrushing Marbury, whose effort at the top of the box was stuffed point-blank by the goalkeeper. The rebound, though, bounced away to Conway, who fired just wide left from 25 yards.

Five minutes later Robertson first-timed a volley on the bouncing ball at the top of the penalty arc toward the post that was tipped away by McNamara.

The dagger came in the midway through the half when a handball in the box by Chelsie Breen gave the visitors a penalty kick. Captain Nicole Strong, who scored the night before in the Rain’s 2-2 draw against Emerald City, easily knocked the spot kick past Busch to double the advantage in the 69th.

Unlike the night before when Portland saw a two-goal lead evaporate in the final stages against Emerald City, the Rain cut off nearly every attack from the Shine, who were not as sharp on the day.

Around the Division

Issaquah SC jumped past the Shine with a 7-0 victory on the road versus the winless Oregon Rush.

The Spokane Shine are idle next weekend before returning to action with a two-game weekend. They play host to Eugene Metro FC Friday, July 6 at 7:00 pm PT at Joe Albi Stadium and then hit the road for the return match against the Rain two days later at Hillsboro High School’s Hare Field at 3:00 pm PT.

Meanwhile, next week there are five other matches around the division as Emerald City travels to play Eugene Friday, June 29 and the Rush the following day. Issaquah, similarly, travels to Oregon to play Portland Friday and Eugene Saturday. The weekend wraps up with the Rain the visiting nearby Rush in Bend.

Quotes from coaches & photos coming soon...