|The new-look Shine came up short versus newcomer Westside Timbers | Photos: Gerald Barnhart - GALLERY|
For the most part, the game was a rather tight affair as neither side really saw many good looks on goal. The outcome was surprising, however, as the 13-woman squad the Timbers brought slowly saw the balance of possession grow to Spokane’s favor and move to Westside’s defensive end throughout the contest. In the end though, the newcomers to the division only needed two chances to claim the three points.
“We knew we had to be smart, organized and disciplined so we changed from our normal formation to give ourselves an opportunity to do something different,” said Timbers assistant coach Cory Hand, who was handling the coaching duties on the night. “We knew it was not going to be an individual effort but a team effort so we stayed disciplined and stayed together; be smarter than their team, and we'll take care of business.
“The other part was, if we constantly put them under pressure and made them play another game, we'd even out - if we give them a second to breathe, they'll play what they expected to play and we'd be under pressure. This is a huge field - full width, full length - and we'd get lost in it.”
The plan was working well as Spokane only had two quality chances in the first half of play. In the 16th minute Brittney Conway launched a 28 yard effort that was tipped over the goal by outstretched goalkeeper Angela Haluska. About seven minutes later a ball was sent forward to Kara Marbury, who drove up the middle and quickly paused inside the penalty arc to elude the chasing duo, creating space to launch a shot that missed the left post by a narrow margin.
"[The situation] let Misi do what she does best: handle with composure; keep a strong body and hold off the defender; and slot it into the side of the net. Beautifully done."
Just before the hour mark Spokane nearly found an equalizer when a ball out of the midfield split the defenders, creating a race to the ball between Conway and the goalkeeper, who won out at the edge of the box and smothered the ball just inside the line. Four minutes later a throw-in from Jaimey Etten to Allysa Lloyd created another chance to pull even as the striker stood strong, shielding the ball as she turned toward goal and found some space only to see her shot from about eight yards stopped at the near post.
“It was a great strike,” said Shine coach Dan Philp. “I was watching Lisa at the start of the game, and she could really strike it. It was a good finish. It just broke to her and she hit it. That was a lot of our play; we didn't create that much.”
It looked like both teams were going to have to settle for a point each, but the visitors took advantage of an apparent worn-out defensive unit and went at them in the final minutes looking for a win. And with some hustle, they found it.
“At halftime we talked that it was not going to matter who has got the prettiest touch; it's going to matter who is willing to press harder and who can do it longer,” said Hand. “The girls decided they didn't want to quit; not single girl wanted to come off the field. And every single girl that traveled 6-7 hours to get here didn't want to walk off the field without that win, so every girl had to fight to the very end.”
The ball was played into the six where Whitney Pitalo (Portland Rain, USC) battled with a pair of Shine players to hold onto the ball, which made it out to Jonsson who scored from a similar position as Clausen.
“It was a beautiful shot. She the ball from her left foot, cut it back to her right and curled it in - incredible shot, great from a left back,” said Hand, whose exuberance from the victory readily showed. “We had caused some pressure in the box and watched a couple mistakes - every time we put pressure their center backs they gave it away. The goalkeeper dropped it four times so the rule was: that ball goes in the box, we send everybody; we send five, six, seven girls at it - force them to get it past us. If we did that, we knew something good would come out of it.”
It was a disappointing conclusion for Philp in his official debut.
“We played okay, but didn't create enough chances,” he said. “We were just sloppy at times; back to work next week.
“They have some good players and they played well,” he said of the pressure the Shine faced throughout the game. “We struggle a bit when we try to keep the ball and we play against direct teams, so that is something we will have to fix in training. It's just hard when you are not used to teams just knocking it in - tough to do; we'll figure it out this week.
Fatigue was an issue for Spokane, which faces a two-fer next week with a home match Saturday against Emerald City and an immediate road trip the next day to face newcomers AC Seattle, who will be making their league debut that night.
“It was kind of a bit sloppy at times, slow at times. We looked tired from the start, which is not great - so that's probably on me,” said Philp.
“We have some guys coming back next week. Julia Moravec will be back, Paige Gallaway will be back and I think Josie Greenwood will be back. And Caitlin Plese, the Portland State goalkeeper, will play the away game. That's four solid Division I kids coming back, makes a big difference. We didn't have too many options off the bench tonight, so yeah, that will make a big difference next week.”
The Timbers, meanwhile, wrap up a difficult opening weekend with a second game Sunday afternoon in Seattle against Emerald City, who were 3-0 winners against local rival SRR Issaquah Friday, which also saw Eugene Metro claim a 4-1 win against the Bend Timbers.
Match Report - Westside Timbers 2 :: 1 Spokane
WES: Madison Misi (Ariana Cooley) 50
SPO: Lisa Clausen 65
WES: Annie Jonsson 89
WES: Angela Haluska; Annie Jonsson, Whitney Pitalo, Melissa Bishop, Kelsey Greene, Aurora Bodenhamer, Madison Misi, Kelsey Moe, Ariana Cooley, Ariel Kanable, Emily Thompson, Erin Huisingh, Lauren Wallberg
SPO: Whittni Mundel; Chelsie Breen, Lisa Clausen, Brittney Conway, Jaimey Etten, Allison Jordan, Kara Marbury, Laci Rennaker, Whitney Wood, Jami Hegg, Alyssa Lloyd, Jaymie Balcom, Riley Richardson, Hailie McClure, Kenna Simon, Christa Tombari