Sunday, June 23, 2013

THUSC Diamonds shine in Spokane, roll to comeback win

The scoring drought ended for Spokane, but THUSC celebrated far more often | Photos: Gerald Barnhart - GALLERY
Short-handed with only 10 players, the Spokane Shine held a surprising lead at halftime Saturday night courtesy of Julia Moravec, but the visiting THUSC Diamonds found their finishing touch in the second half and flew by the hosts for a dominating 7-1 victory led by two goals and three assists from Jen Stoltenberg.

With nearly half the young squad still in Hawaii, where Shine and Spokane Shadow head coach Dan Philp was coaching many of them, for the USYSA Region IV tournament, the Shine took the field Saturday evening at Spokane Falls with only 10 players.

Julia Moravec
The visiting Tualatin Hills United side held the majority of the play in the first half and had several chances only to see the finishing fail them after the full-day trip from Portland. The missed opportunities caught up to them 24th minute when a ball across the area cut behind the defense to Julia Moravec, who had only the goalkeeper to beat on her shot from about 14 yards out. The goal was the second of the year for the Shine, ending a 409-minute drought that dated back to the season-opening 2-1 home loss against to the Westside Timbers in which Lisa Clausen scored the equalizer in the 65th minute.

With seven minutes left in the half a foul resulted in THUSC’s best chance as Hannah Kimsey sent her 23-yard free kick off the crossbar. Two minutes later Stoltenber drove down the left side a launched a low cross from the endline to the far post, but Kimsey’s redirected header was just a bit too light, sailing wide of the upright.

With just under five minutes left Moravec nearly made it a two-goal margin, but her effort from outside the right corner of the area narrowly missed the far post.

Making her first appearance of the season, Taylor Lang performed well in goal in the first half behind a back line of regular defensive starters Allison Jordan and Chelsie Breen, who were joined on the outside by Megan Dempsey and Jami Hegg, who brought plenty of defensive experience from Whitworth.

Jen Stoltenberg
All that good work in the first half, however, disappeared in the second half, which turned into the Stoltenberg show.

Six minutes into the second half a long ball forward from Kimsey put Stoltenberg behind the defense in a one-v-one scenario with Lang in which she cut around the diving keeper to finish from an acute angle on the left side of the six to pull things even. Four minutes later Stoltenberg put the visitors in front when she received the ball in the box and made a great cut to create space and score from about 14 yards.

“It was good til half, right? One-nil up, player down – it’s about what we can ask for,” said Shine assistant coach Chris Windham, who was filling in for Philp. “It’s just hard not to switch off after that - go into halftime and come out, and its hard to get back into it. Even when they put it at 1-1, you gotta be able to click on and we just weren’t able to do that.”

On the hour mark Madisen Stewart launched a long-range effort from about 35 yards out on the right side that dropped into the goal out of Lang’s reach. The four-goal, six-minute scoring spree continued with a fourth just a minute later when a great low ball played into the six by Stoltenberg was finished with an easy tap-in by Kimsey.

“They did really well. I think we went in at halftime and just discussed the first half a little bit,” said Diamonds coach Joy Boswell. “Whether it was driving here today and kind of putting everything into one day – the idea was, ‘you guys just need to calm down. Once you calm down, play the ball around and let the ball do the work, things would open up.’ And that’s essentially what happened.

“In the first half they were forcing a lot of things forward, being very, very direct with the style of playing that they were doing. In the second half there was a little bit more movement, more lateral movement with the ball, opening things up on the field. And doing that obviously created a lot of opportunities.

“And the other piece that was very important is they finally started putting things away in the final third, which they weren’t doing in the first half. Finishing was much better. They were just sloppy in the final third and that was one thing that was brought up at halftime was ‘you guys need to clean up what you are doing in the final third to kind of have the next success be in the back of the net.’ That opened the floodgates and they started moving it around and playing more as a team as opposed to individuals.”

Brandi Dawson took over from there. She netted her first of the contest seven minutes later when she took a ball from Stoltenberg inside the arc and ripped a well-driven strike past Lang. She scored her second in the 81st when she rose above everyone else on a Kimsey corner and nodded it under the bar. Lang got her hand on the ball, but the reaction was not in time as her attempt to knock it over went into the roof of the goal. Dawson completed a hat-trick with under a minute left in regulation when she was on the receiving end of a quick counter, collecting the ball from Stoltenberg behind the defense and slotting it past Lang.

Stoltenberg has been without question the hottest player in the division this season, catching fire in the past two weeks. In the last three games she has now tallied an impressive five goals and seven assists for three wins.

“She has a way of doing that. She is definitely a player that brings such a great dimension to this team, as do a bunch of players on this group. But, she is someone that, you know she is going to put one in,” said Boswell. “You don’t know where; you don’t know when; but it will happen during the game at some point. And once that happens, other things are going to open up.

“She’s definitely the offensive powerhouse for this group, which is great to have because not every team has that marquee player that can be relied on – ‘oh, she’ll get one in, we know we’ll get one.’ And then, pushing others to kind of elevate themselves to that kind of work ethic is something she really brings.

The contest was the first away from home for THUSC in their debut season. They have a quick turnaround with a showdown Sunday at 4:00 against Emerald City, whom they sit tied for second with in the division at 4-1-0, trailing the 5-0-1 leaders SRR Issaquah SC.

“That’s going to be a very tough game. I haven’t had a ton of opportunity to really review their playing roster, but they have a very, very good squad just looking at the results they have had in the past,” said Boswell. “So it’s going to be resting tonight, getting ready for the game tomorrow realizing that we need to go out and get into the game within the first 5-10 minutes of the game and not allow a half to go by like we did today. I don’t think we’ll have that luxury tomorrow. We have to go out there and really make an impact right away as opposed to waiting 45 minutes to do it.”

Though they currently boast the top record among the Oregon clubs, a win Sunday would cement their position as the leading contender from the southern foursome in the division.

“There’s definitely a good group of players in the Oregon area, and we’ve been fortunate enough to get a lot of them in this group, which makes us, to me, kind of that top contender,” Boswell said of their place among the Oregon contingent. “Saying that though, the Westside Timbers has some good little players and Bend has some good little players. I think we’ve been the most consistent team within that group. I think it’s because of the players. I think it’s because the training and the players that we have on this group that just maintain that consistency, so we’ve been very fortunate where other teams may not have that consistency; so it’s gonna be a little bit harder for them to contend for that position.”

The match marked the third consecutive game the Shine did not have enough players to field a full starting 11. Last week on the road the club only played with 10 against Issaquah and borrowed players for the second match against Emerald City in order to have a ‘full squad’ to finish the weekend.  The Shine are off until they host AC Seattle on Wednesday.

Scoring Summary
SPO: Julia Moravec 24
THU: Jen Stoltenberg (Hannah Kimsey) 51
THU: Jen Stoltenberg (Hannah Kimsey) 55
THU: Madisen Stewart (Brandi Dawson) 60
THU: Hannah Kimsey (Jen Stoltenberg) 61
THU: Brandi Dawson (Jen Stoltenberg) 69
THU: Brandi Dawson (Hannah Kimsey) 81
THU: Brandi Dawson (Jen Stoltenberg) 90


1 Chris Lewis; 2 Shanna Lechelt, 3 Jillian Shoquist, 5 Rachel Crawford, 6 Karin Hatch, 7 Emily Rohde, 8 Kallie Neimann, 10 Hannah Kimsey, 11 Michelle Safatie, 13 Brandi Dawson, 15 Kayla Henningsen, 17 Jennifer Stoltenberg, 18 Madisen Stewart

21 Taylor Lang; 2 Allison Jordan, 4 Chelsie Breen, 5 Megan Dempsey, 6 Jami Hegg, 8 Whitney Wood, 9 Julia Moravec, 10 Jaimey Etten, 11 Brittney Conway, 12 Savannah Hoekstra