Friday, July 13, 2012

Another 1-0 win for Spokane Shine keeps playoff hopes alive

Lisa Robertson was all over the pitch, delivered winner from the corner - Photos: Gerald Barnhart
The Spokane Shine have mastered the art of coming out on top in tight, hard-fought contests, earning their fourth 1-0 victory this season Friday evening against Emerald City FC in a battle of two clubs attempting to stay in the playoff picture. Former Scottish youth international Lisa Robertson provided the lone tally three minutes into the second half, handing Emerald City their first loss of the campaign.

The result eliminated the visitors from postseason contention, leaving the home club with a win to earn Saturday versus the winless Oregon Rush and relying on Emerald City to now provide a little help Sunday against Issaquah with at least a draw in the Battle for Seattle. The two clubs finished in a 1-1 deadlock Wednesday in their first meeting.

Robertson had the first chance of the evening when a foul at the top right corner of the box gave the hosts a free kick that would be gathered by goalkeeper Liz Ruiz.

The Shine dominated from the outset as the two possession-oriented clubs began a chess match that continued throughout the full 90 minutes. The visitors would not have a legitimate foray into the offensive third until 12 minutes into the contest as the Spokane back three and midfield cut them off time after time.

It was not until the 19th minute that Emerald City had a chance for the opener, but a cross to the unmarked Casey Berrier was headed well wide for an easy clearance.

Kara Marbury | Match gallery @ Facebook
Kara Marbury, last Friday’s winning scorer, thrilled the crowd in the 25th when she volleyed a great cross right out of the air, forcing Ruiz into making a great diving reaction save to keep the game at zeros.

Three minutes later Robertson took the ball up the left flank before dropping it back to Erica Hart, who fired a shot on goal from 25 yards.

The pressure from the Shine continued and it looked as though they had the break through right before the half on a nicely played short corner. Robertson sent a firm ball in from the right corner to Averi Hallman, who fired a shot from inside the top corner of the box that forced another diving stop from Ruiz. The rebound spilled out to defender Chelsie Breen for a close-range finish, but her effort was denied as well.

And before you knew it in the second half, the Shine were on the board. Robertson went to the corner again, but this time she would leave it celebrating as the ball dropped into the area and found its way between several players before landing in the far side netting untouched.

Emerald City fought back the rest of the half, mostly from desperation. The first chance came in the 53rd after Maggie Schrader was controversially called for a foul just outside the box, but the free kick was slammed harmlessly into the wall. Four minutes later Kate Bennett let loose with a long shot that was a couple yards wide.

Lisa Robertson | Full match photo gallery
In the 66th minute Robertson nearly had a second when she poked a hard shot from a jam-up just beyond the penalty spot that forced another nice save from Ruiz, who had quite a good performance in goal for the visitors.

A minute later another long sailing shot from Bennett flew over the crossbar. Two minutes later in the 69th, the crowd was given a scare when a throw-in from the left made its way all the way to the right where Jessica Ayala sent a shot from just inside the box that was heading directly to the upper corner of the goal before curling away.

Five minutes later Marbury gathered the ball at midfield after the turnover and put the Emerald City back line on their heels as she drove 30-plus rights up the middle of the pitch before firing a shot that Ruiz handled well.

Hillary Zevenbergen created a great chance for herself in the 79th minute, running behind the Shine defense along the right endline until goalkeeper Stephanie Busch, largely untested on the night, forced her hand 10 yards out. The effort from the acute angle went wide of the far post.

From there the Shine clamped down and wore out the clock, allowing only a late desperate effort from long range that made many hearts skip a beat as it floated above the bar three minutes into stoppage time.

The Shine now lead the division with five shutouts for the year and can clinch the top spot in that category Saturday against the Rush with another.