Victory, Stars win; Artesians and Hoppers draw on EPLWA kickoff Sunday

eplwa-600-cropThe Evergreen Premier League (EPLWA) kicked off its 4th season on Sunday with three matches around the state of Washington.

History was made in Olympia as the Oly Town Artesians played their first league match and scored their first goal. An explosion was heard from up in Bellingham as the defending Champion Vancouver Victory shelled the Hammers at Civic Stadium behind a fantastic individual performance. Two stars expected to lead an improved Seattle side did just that at French Field in Kent. Read the recaps below.

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Timur Zhividze scored four goals as Vancouver romped at Bellingham on Sunday. (V2FC photo)

Vancouver Victory-5 Bellingham United-0

BELLINGHAM, WA— (club release) The Vancouver Victory (1-0-0, 3 points) arrived right where they left off last season – in first place in the Evergreen Premier League after an eye-opening 5-0 win over Bellingham United (0-1-0, 0 points) at a stunned Civic Stadium on Sunday April 30. Timur Zhividze scored four goals and dished out an assist to power the Victory.

This was the worst loss for the Hammers at home in four seasons of EPLWA play (5-goal margin.) The Victory matched their record of winning away by 5 goals which they set previously in a 6-1 win over Seattle Stars in June of 2015.

The defending Champions opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when Jacob Young’s long throw-in was flicked on by Nic Farr to Zhividze who finished the job.

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Timur Zhividze.

In the 33rd minute it was Farr again finding Zhividze on a through ball that beat the Hammers defense. Timur closed the deal and it was 2-0 to the visitors.

Zhividze got a hat trick before half time when he scored again in the 38th minute on a free kick from over 20 yards out.

In the second half Nic Farr was brought down in the box in the 72nd minute. The penalty kick call was a try for Zhividze again, and he made it 4-0 to Vancouver.

The scoring was complete in the 80th minute when Zhividze turned assist man on a goal from Nicholas Ballanger.

Jordan Farr got the shutout in goal for V2FC.

“When you have a talented and a hard working team like this, it makes it easy for everyone to play with each other,” Zhividze said after the match, “and when guys are working hard to get me in scoring positions like that, it makes my job very easy!  Today was fun!”

It was the first EPLWA win for new V2FC Head Coach Troy Ready. “I am so proud of the team,” Ready said. “Individually players were good on both sides of the ball and collectively the group was fantastic. This was a great first result and we are excited about moving forward.”

Victory General Manager Barrett Goddard has seen the Bellingham – Vancouver fixtures gain importance over recent years. “Today was a great team performance from our guys,” Goddard said. “We were missing a few players due to finals and a little light on the bench, but everyone stepped up and played very well. Timur was lights out with four goals and an assist. Jordan and the defense got the clean sheet against a very experienced home side. I’m really happy for Troy and the guys.”

Bellingham United travels to Oly Town FC next Sunday May 7 while Vancouver Victory have next week off.

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Seattle Stars defense gets ready. Goalkeeper Carlos Rodriguez at center. (Stars photo)

Seattle Stars-2 Olympic Force-1

KENT, WA— (league report) Two of the players to watch this season on the Seattle Stars (1-0-0, 3 points) attack were in good form on opening day as the home side held for a 2-1 win over the Olympic Force (0-1-0, 0 points) at French Field.

Tyler Bjork, the leading scorer in the history of the Evergreen Premier League, got his 35th career strike in the EPLWA in the 32nd minute (see video) to give Seattle a 1-0 lead.

Brandon Gonzalez, recently featured in this goalWA.net story, made it 2-0 for Seattle with a goal of his own in the 51st.

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Brandon Gonzalez (center) and Tyler Bjork (right) scored goals to lead the Stars over the Force on Sunday at French Field in Kent. (Stars photo)

The Force kept battling and they were rewarded with a penalty kick call in the 89th minute. Diego Aceves converted the chance for a 2-1 final.

The result reverses last year’s season opener for both sides which went to the Force, 4-1.

Next Saturday May 6 Seattle Stars will host Yakima United at French Field at 6 PM. The next day the Olympic Force will be at Yakima to face the Hoppers at 4:30 PM at Sozo.

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JT Meyer celebrates goal #1 for Oly Town FC. (Charis Wilson)

Oly Town Artesians-1 Yakima United-1

LACEY, WA—  (club release) It took 73 minutes, but the Oly Town Artesians (0-0-1, 1 point) scored their first Evergreen Premier League goal in team history when Olympia native JT Meyer buried a shot to level the score with Yakima United (0-0-1, 1 point) at 1-1. The score line held for the remaining time and the Artesians earned their first league point in front of their home crowd at South Sound Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

“It’s an honor,” said Meyer when asked how it felt to score his hometown club’s first goal. “I saw good composure from Gabi (Zaccagnini) to get it to me, I saw they had the near post covered, they gave me a lane, I took a touch and smashed it past the goalie…it’s quite the honor.”

Meyer’s goal came 55 minutes after Yakima United scored their first goal of the season. Alex Molchan gathered a deflection and found himself in open space to beat Oly keeper JJ Olson. Ceveriano Garcia was credited with the assist and Yakima took a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute.

Olson faced three shots on goal during the defensive battle, making two saves, while Yakima keeper Antonio Gonzalez faced just two shots on goal, making one save. Both backlines played well, especially when pressure ramped up late in the second half, and included standout performances from Yakima veteran Dennis Stevenson and Oly’s Brady Espinoza, amongst many others.

Yakima-Wiese
Kyle Wiese heads the ball for Oly Town. (Charis Wilson)

Both teams had fantastic chances to break the tie late in the game, including a point blank opportunity for Daniele Zaccagnini that took an unlucky bounce and hopped up on to the top of his foot and over the goal in the 89th minute.

Yakima was called for more than twice as many fouls over the course of the game, committing 15 infractions, while Oly was charged with just seven. But the biggest foul was not called. A Yakima defender clearly committed a handball in the box in the 69th minute, at least to the hometown faithful, but the officials did not have the view and did not award the Artesians the penalty shot.

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The Artesians will look for their first W of the season next Sunday against Bellingham United. First kick is scheduled at 2:00 PM at either The Evergreen State College or South Sound Stadium. The field of play will be determined mid-week based upon the forecast.

Yakima United will return to Puget Sound next Saturday night to face Seattle Stars at 6 PM at French Field in Kent. The next day (Sunday, May 7) the Hoppers are home at Sozo to host the Olympic Force at 4:30 PM

Follow the Artesians all season long by visiting http://www.olytownfc.com, following them on Twitter at twitter.com/OlyTownFC, and liking them on Facebook at FB.com/OlyTownFC.

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