“As a coach, you really only get one or two games a year where you feel really satisfied, and that was Friday night,” said Quintero. “Especially considering we played them a week before and any time you play someone back-to-back like that, there’s going to be lot of emotion amongst the players towards each other; and that definitely came out Friday night. It was a rough-and-tumble game.
“I am really, really proud of the girls, the way they responded to beat them on the road one-nil in a hostile environment – they had a pretty decent crowd at Issaquah – and just lock the game down after we scored.
“That’s the first time that we have had a lead that we didn’t give up right away to a decent team. That was a problem that was plaguing us early that we pretty much fixed.”
|Maggie Schrader netted Friday's winner|
“Then the next day was pretty much a matter of survival. We played an afternoon game after a late night game and a couple kids got hurt, and tried to play through it as best they could. Just proud of em for hanging on for the draw.”
The draw gave the Shine a one-point lead in the division heading into the second half of the season with four of the remaining five games at home, where the large space of Joe Albi Stadium can provide an advantage for Spokane.
“I like it. It shows who can play and who can’t instead of the smaller fields, where it’s just a lot of pinball, balls bouncing off players… ping, ping, ping here and there,” Quintero said previously after the home opener. “This field at Albi here really lends itself to seeing who can find that space, and who can play in that space, and who can exploit the next space when that space closes. You get to see a little more technical ability. Players like Julissa Rodriguez and Lisa Robertson who are a little more technical, and Tseng Shu-O on the ball - they really have that extra couple yards to be able to take a player one-v-one without having to worry about a clogged up midfield.”
And the timing could not be any better for the team to be able to utilize that home field advantage as the movement of the ball and flow of play seems to finally be clicking well for the side.
“It’s just getting to know each other better, and having half a summer or half a season under your belt,” Quintero noted after training Tuesday. “The football we are playing is starting to look better, more like we are a real team instead of a bunch of individuals stuck in positions.”
With such an advantage at hand, the challenge becomes maximizing its potential. And coach Quintero has laid down the gauntlet with his team, telling them that he wants them to win all of their remaining home games, giving them a good shot at the postseason.
“That has to be our goal, because I think if we do that, then it’s fair to say we will have a good chance at making the playoffs,” he said after addressing the team at the conclusion of Tuesday’s training session. “I think if we slip up at home – even once – who knows what Issaquah and Portland or Eugene will do. Those are all good clubs and no one knows what they are going to do against each other. I think if we win all of them at home and maybe take a point on the road, we will be ok. But that’s a big task to ask and takes a lot of skill and luck, both - so we will see how it goes.”
Not only will it take skill and luck, but looking at the math, they will also need some help. Calculating victories at home for the remainder of the season for Spokane, the team will still be two points shy of Issaquah’s points-possible tally, and would be even with Emerald City. Portland Rain, the only remaining road trip, would have a points-possible total that is one point less.
The Shine will face Portland for the first time this season Saturday afternoon in a showdown for first place at Joe Albi Stadium. Kick off is set for 3:00 pm PT. The Rain are the only club the Shine have yet to play this season.
The Rain are off to a good start despite having been rescued from folding at the last minute courtesy of the assistance of Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers, who have become development partners with the team. Portland opened with a 2-1 home win against Oregon Rush, who remain winless, and fell the following week, 2-0, at Issaquah. Since then, the team is unbeaten with a 1-1 draw at Emerald City and a 2-1 road victory versus Eugene Metro FC.
Spokane will have an extra benefit Saturday via scheduling as the Rain will be traveling to Spokane after having played Emerald City in a home game Friday afternoon at 4:00 in Vancouver, Washington. It is part of a Cascadia doubleheader of sorts as the evening game pits the Portland Timbers U-23s, who feature a pair of Gonzaga players, against Sounders FC U23 in USL Premier Development League action.
Sitting one point back of the Shine, Portland could come into Albi in first place following their Friday night contest. The two sides will be looking to claim the division lead, though draws could allow Issaquah, also currently one point back, to jump back into first with a victory on the road versus the winless Oregon Rush Saturday afternoon at 1:00 pm PT.
|Shine scrimmaged a mixed team of FC Spokane U14-15 players & coaches Wednesday - Galleries: Facebook | Full|