Thursday, June 7, 2012

Shining brighter and further in Spokane

A few days before the home opener at Joe Albi Stadium, Head Coach Jason Quintero shared a positive view for the upcoming season for a Spokane Shine squad and club that continue to evolve. The team plays host to an unbeaten Issaquah SC side Friday evening at 7:05 pm ET.

“I know they have not been scored on, and I want to change that,” was the first thing Quintero said of the upcoming opponent. “They got some decent players, just looking at their roster and where those players have been - and what level they play at - I know they are going to have a decent team.

The first-year Issaquah club comes into the match with a 2-0-0 record with a 3-0 win over Eugene Metro FC and a 2-0 result against Portland Rain SC – both at home. This will be the team’s first trip away from home, giving Spokane the opportunity to perhaps take utilize a similar advantage their opponents had last week when they opened on the road themselves in Eugene and Bend versus the same Metro FC side as well as the Oregon Rush. 

“It was tough. It was an eight or nine-hour trip. It was starting the season off on the road against a team that has already played,” said Quintero. “We were still trying to throw things against the wall and see what sticks, especially tactically.

“We were fighting an uphill battle, but those are just excuses. In the end, we just didn’t perform on Friday [against Eugene] – we weren’t ready to perform at a very high level.

“The only good news we can take from it is that we got better every half. The bad news is we couldn’t get any worse than the first half on Friday. The second half of the second game we were finally clicking.

And the third-year WPSL coach sees that as a good sign going up a club that posted the dominant performance against the same opponent two weeks ago in their season openers.

“So if we can build on that momentum, and coming into Friday and playing against what is right now the top team in the [division], we will be ok. Like I was saying right here [in the post-training team discussion], if we keep having mental mistakes when we are holding leads, it’s going to be a tough season. So it’s just about knowing how to play with a lead.”

Quintero was referring to the club’s second game against Oregon Rush in Bend. He told his players after training that they should have had a 3-0 lead, but when they got the first goal, a mistake led to an equalizer. And when they got the second, another error kept Rush in it with another to level.

Photo gallery of training
“Our starters match up all right and I like our bench. Especially as showed on Saturday, we’ve got a lot more depth than Eugene and Oregon Rush,” he said of the capability of the talent on the field last weekend. “Against the Rush, that’s what gave us the edge. When we put in our 14th and 15th players, we were almost just as good as withour starters. No offense to Bend, but when they did that it was a lot of younger players who were inexperienced.”

Depth of the opposition may not be a factor come Friday, though the defensive depth of the Shine may be key Friday. When Issaquah treks to Spokane, the one player the Shine will likely have to keep track of is Kennya Cordner of the Trinidad & Tobago national team. In the season opener she scored twice, finding the net just two minutes into the contest. She added a third to her tally in the second game for Issaquah.

For her national team, Cordner has been just as prolific. She scored 21 goals for T&T in World Cup Qualifying, Olympic Qualifying, Pan-American Games and in the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, including a stunning nine-goal outing in a 14-1 win against Dominica in an Olympic qualifier.

Charged with the task of leading that back line for the Shine against the standout international is a product Lakewood in western Washington. 

“In the back we got Maggie Schraeder, who has a little bit of experience. She’s one of the older ones, and just graduated from the University of Incarnate Word. She was the captain down there and All-Conference in Division II so it’s good to have her with her experience just talking, especially when we started just a couple weeks ago and nobody knew each others’ names.

“To have that voice in the back, she’s just a commanding figure. She isn’t scared of anybody and she goes through people. Her and Lisa are the natural leaders of the group,” Quintero added, referring to his own international striker, Lisa Robertson of Scotland.

“She’s our captain, a pure leader through and through,” he said of the Scottish youth standout that is nearing her first cap with the senior side after nearly 30 appearances at the U19 level. “She’s the type of kid that gets the kids together on off days and goes for weightlifting sessions and training and runs, and all that stuff. Just a complete soccer junkie, and a great kid.” 

Robertson’s presence is a perfect example of how the club has evolved over the past three years. Originally launched as the Black Widows to compliment the Spiders of the USL Premier Development League, the club has forged its own, new identity. As the Spiders departed following their fourth campaign, the WPSL side found new light as the Shine in 2011, finishing second in the division.

“We have basically taken an organization and gone from 100 percent locally,” said Quintero about the roster in 2010. “Last year we started recruiting nationally, and this is the first year we starting recruiting internationally, having players come in Taiwan and Scotland just to play for this team.”

“Used to be that at a home game when we were allowed to dress 20 [we would get to] 13 or 14, but then it’s like anybody can dress the last spots. But now we are in a position where its 24-25 deep and I got tough decisions to make for those last few spots because now we are in a  position where they can contribute whereas before I was just dressing high school kids for fun, and for the experience. Now I am gonna have to sit someone who possibly starts at a Division I college. It’s a problem, but it’s a good problem to have.”

A Few Roster Quick Facts: 8 – Players from Inland NW colleges…14 – Players from Inland NW high schools (8 from greater Spokane, 2 from Cheney, 2 from Tri-Cities)… 4 – Players from California

Spokane Shine Home Schedule

Friday, June 8 v Issaquah SC - 7:05 pm
Saturday, June 23 v Portland Rain - 3:00 pm
Friday, July 6 v Emerald City FC - 7:05 pm
Friday, July 13 v Eugene Metro FC - 7:05 pm
Saturday, July 14 v Oregon Rush - 2:00 pm

Full Schedule & Ticket Info