Monday, May 4, 2015

Spokane’s EPLWA title defense opens with a bang

Home opener for Wenatchee also served as the season opener for the Shadow | Full gallery [+] 
The early moments of the match showed signs of a Spokane team still coming together due to collegiate player availability, but by the time the intermission was over everyone was on the same page. A 3-2 halftime lead turned into an 8-2 victory against host Wenatchee FC as the defending champion Shadow ran past the Capitals to a season opening Evergreen Premier League win.

Capitals celebrate early goal
Wenatchee gave Spokane a bit of a worry though in the first half-hour. Just two minutes in a Wenatchee player beat Colin Shockman down the left side of the field and sent a ball into the area that was not cleared well, going right to Adrian Espinoza about six yards outside of the area. Espinoza stepped forward and sent a low line drive past goalkeeper Jeff Srock to put the hosts on the board.

The Capitals, though, never had a match for Adam Talley’s speed and the striker made a fantastic run 10 minutes into the game to pull things even. He collected the ball on the right side and drove about 25 yards, going around the outside of the defense and cutting into the six. As he approached the goal he smacked the ball on frame, forcing a rebound off goalkeeper Daniel Romero that briefly pinged around off players in the six before falling to him for the tap-in.

Adam Talley
Five minutes later Zach Hamer nearly put the Shadow in front with a breaking counter in which they had a two-on-one with Talley to his left. Hamer, elected to shoot however, sending the effort narrowly wide of the left post.

The go-ahead goal did come in the 20th, though, on a corner. Jesse Retan’s ball from the right found Brady Ulen on the far corner of the six and the center back nodded it back, putting it in the right side netting of the goal.

In the 25th, Wenatchee nearly equalized when Eduardo Perez took the ball up the right and with plenty of space ripped a 25-yard shot that clanged off the near post. The play on the rebound resulted in a corner, however, that proved very fruitful. Espinoza sent the ball from the right across the area to the far side of the box, finding Josh Alvarez about 15 yards out from goal, where he headed it home to put things back on even terms.

Sam Engle
A throw-in up the right side in the 37th minute helped put the Shadow back in front again. The ball came via Shockman to Sam Engle, who turned and cut diagonally into the box and let loose a well-place effort inside the far post.

The Capitals nearly had the equalizer seconds before halftime only to face a frustrating missed opportunity. The attacking trio had a three-on-three counter with the Shadow back line on its heels, and took advantage with some nice passing back and forth around the area that created several extremely dangerous looks. Each time though, the player hesitated to pull the trigger and eventually the opportunity fizzled out and the whistle marked the end.

The visitors came out of the break much more organized and were the far superior team on the night physically as fatigue quickly began playing a big factor in Wenatchee’s ability to stop the Shadow, who had more time in possession and were much quicker than their counterparts.

And things unraveled quickly for the hosts. Two minutes in a slip at midfield allowed Spokane to take the ball on a turnover and Zach Hamer quickly found Sam Engle near the area. Engle calmly slotted the ball inside the near left post for a two-goal lead.

Three minutes later Engle helped create the next strike. On the right side of midfield he back-heeled the ball forward to Graison, who was heading up the touchline. Le then sprinted up the right side and as he approached the area sent a well-paced effort toward the far post, forcing an own goal from a defender attempting to beat Talley to the ball for the tap-in.

Zach Hamer (8) and Nick Ulowetz (10)
Firmly in control at that point, the Shadow began regularly inserting the bench throughout the lineup and the fresh legs of players still trying to earn valuable places on the roster going forward as more collegiate players become available were just too much for Wenatchee to contain.

In the 57th minute a well-paced Shadow shot was denied by Romero, but the rebound ricocheted well out to the left side along the end line. Trevan Estrellado collected the ball for Spokane and drove the line, beat a defender and directed the ball inside the area for an awaiting Nick Ulowetz, for an easy finish to make it 6-2.

On the hour mark, Talley’s pace was too much for a Capital defender, who wrapped him up and dragged him down along the inside right edge of the area as he was driving in. The striker buried the resulting penalty right down the middle.

Chances continued to come for Spokane with balls narrowly missing the mark, but the scoring for the night would end on an unusual own goal in which a ball into the area was volleyed, surprisingly, over the goalkeeper from about just nine yards out by Francisco Medina.

Scoring Summary:
SPO: Adam Talley 10, Brady Ulen (Jesse Retan) 20, Sam Engle (Colin Shockman) 37, Sam Engle (Zach Hamer) 47, Wenatchee own goal 50, Nick Ulowetz (Trevan Estrellado) 57, Adam Talley (penalty) 61, Wenatchee own goal 77
WEN: Adrian Espinoza 2, Josh Alvarez (Adrian Espinoza) 26

SPO: Starters – Jeff Srock, Matt Beaulaurier, Sam Engle, Zach Hamer, Sam Joy, Graison Le, Jesse Retan, Colin Shockman, Adam Talley, Ben Thompson, Brady Ulen :: Subs – Tony Watters, Karl Muelheims, Kazuki Tateishi, Chrisantos Chavez, Trevan Estrellado, Nick Ulowetz
WEN: Starters – Daniel Romero, Olegario Orozco, Vidal Hurtado, Rey Cabrera, Francisco Medina, Matheus Correa, Josh Alvarez, Neil Oyston, Yonotan Rodriguez, Adrian Espinoza, Eduardo Perez :: Subs – Edwin Tinoco, Luis Garcia, Miguel Martinez, Christian Nyanfore, Octavio Garcia

SPO: Zach Hamer (caution) 19, Brady Ulen (caution) 39
WEN: Rey Cabrera (caution) 12, Octavio Garcia (ejection) 82

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