It was just a friendly, but things got a bit physical at times as the Cardinals of North Idaho College gave Whitworth their best Saturday afternoon in an exhibition before falling 5-1 in north Spokane.
Sam Engle scored three times for the Pirates, but the most impressive strike on the day was a nearly 30 yard laser from NIC's Adam Talley (Newman Lake, WA) in the 48th minute of the contest to make it 2-1. He received the ball from Adam Garman (Coeur d'Alene, ID) on the right side and from just inside the touchline he surprised everyone when he zipped the ball into the upper back corner of the net.
|Adam Talley | Photos: Gerald Barnhart|
"In general, this is our best start in three years; we are 2-0-1 in regular season games," he said about the start to their season prior to Saturday's friendly. "We'll see what our status is on a couple injuries today, but in general at the start of the season we thought this was a group with some depth and could withstand an injury or two and still be pretty dangerous throughout the season.
"We like our group. We are converting a couple players from attacking positions to the back line so we are expecting some mistakes for another couple of weeks - hopefully just a couple weeks. We like our athleticism and we have a few special players so we think that gives us the talent to be a threat to go to the nationals; and if we can get there, maybe do some damage."
|Sam Engle | Full Gallery|
Sam Selisch doubled the advantage in the 40th minute when Rylan Berriman worked the ball up the right and played it to him inside the box. Selisch battled through defenders and the goalkeeper, sticking with it and eventually knocking the loose ball in on a scramble for the ball.
After the Cardinals pulled back within one it took the Pirates, who made a nearly complete roster switch at the break, 10 minutes to restore the two-goal advantage. Before then, however, NIC nearly pulled even in the 51st when Jesse Bostrom (Helena, MT) drove the ball just over the bar from 22 yards, where the ball rolled out to him after a couple of blocks in the box.
In the 58th minute Chris Rothrock (Spokane, WA) put away his own rebound from close range when goalkeeper Tanner Jones (Moscow, ID) was unable to hold on to the initial attempt.
Engle closed the contest in fashion with a pair of nice goals three minutes apart. The first came in the 70th when he sent another low roller inside the right post from about 23 yards. He followed it up with a nice header on a fantastic build up. A quick restart after a foul in the middle of the offensive third was dished out to the right side to a wide open Tyler Clarke, who took the space he had and delivered a perfect ball over everyone across the six to Engle on the back side of the play for the finish.
Though it was Talley's strike that stood out on the day for NIC, Thompson pointed out three of his players he expected to make them contenders for the postseason this year.
"Christian Botuli is a returner from Denver that played in the Colorado Rapids and Rush programs; he's a special player. Defensively he's an incredible destroyer; distributes the ball well side-to-side; he's one of the guys with the type of soccer IQ that you coach and you think, boy, this kid is gonna coach me some day… or my kid hopefully. Shane Stanley (Sagle, ID) was in the Real Salt Lake program for a half a year, and with the Sounders program for half a year; another guy with a very high soccer IQ. We feel lucky to have two former academy players with us from MLS clubs because their soccer intelligence is off the charts. Rodger Bucknor - our Jamaican that developed in a program alongside MLS striker Darren Mattocks - in the last two games has gotten three goals and one assist; very dangerous one-v-one."