SPOKANE, WA— (Shadow release) The Spokane Shadow First Teams head to the Spokane Polo Grounds this week for three days of action in all three leagues. The Men’s First Team hosts OSA FC in a rare midweek NPSL contest on Wednesday evening at 5:00. On the weekend, the Shadow Women’s First Team continue defense of their NWPL crown in a pair of doubleheaders with Shadow 2 of EPLWA. On Saturday, the lads kick things off at 3:00 with the ladies following at 6:00. Kick-off times will be an hour earlier on Sunday (2:00/5:00).
In Wednesday evening’s match, the Shadow MFT look to end a four-game skid in their first-ever match at the Polo Grounds as they face an OSA squad that is 1-1-1 in their last three matches. Last week OSA dropped a narrow 1-0 midweek match to visiting Kitsap before rebounding with a 4-1 win against FCM Portland on the weekend.
Spokane’s last outing on June 17 and 18 saw a pair of tightly-contested affairs that the Shadow came up short in.
In the first contest, both sides had a multitude of chances, but sixteen minutes into the match a turnover in Kitsap’s end of the pitch gave Spokane one of their best chances of the night with Nick Hamer getting the ball behind the back line, but goalkeeper Paul-Andre Guerin came out to the top of the box to challenge him one-on-one and got enough of the ball to foil the opportunity.
Bryan Hernandez again had a stellar night at the other end for the Shadow, making several brilliant stops. A free kick from the right side by Mike Scharf was headed under the bar in the 27th minute before Hernandez tipped it over the bar.
A turnover, though, was the difference. Kitsap claimed the ball at midfield and Hamidou Kante put Jorge Ruiz behind the Shadow defense, leaving Hernandez in a difficult one-on-one scenario that Ruiz finished from about 13 yards in the 35th minute.
The Shadow nearly pulled even just before the break with a quick series of passes that gave Hamer another look at goal, but his effort slipped wide left.
Just a minute into the second half it looked like Kitsap was going to double the lead on a penalty, but Ruiz effort toward the left was denied by Hernandez, who then also made a fantastic reaction save on the rebound. The ball continued to ping around the six before a Kitsap play – arguably offside, but uncalled – knocked it on goal. His touch, however, was mishit and popped up, smacking off the crossbar before being cleared away.
Both teams had a few more looks in the contest, but the visitors clamped down on Spokane’s opportunities and left with the victory.
The following night was also a back-and-forth contest. The Shadow found themselves trailing from the early minutes against FCM Portland with the visitors jumping on the board quickly with a goal six minutes into the match by Luis Galeano.
Spokane nearly pulled even just four minutes later when Tyler Smith took a free kick about 25 yards out on the left side that the goalkeeper spilled in the six, but Dorian Lair was able to scramble quickly enough to collect the ball before a Shadow player could knock it home.
Zack Hamer had his first of several chances on the day in the 25th minute when he battled with two defenders at the right corner of the six, muscling himself enough space to get a shot past the keeper only to see an FCM defender clear it away.
In the 36th minute Jordan Selland fouled Johny Cortez as he drove through the box on the left side. Hamer converted on the ensuing corner to put things even at 1-1.
As the first half came to a close, Ryan Middleton launched a shot for Portland that forced a fantastic save from Tony Watters, but moments later in stoppage time the visitors nabbed what stood as the winner when Glapoujay Garmondeh served a ball in from the left to an open Galeano, who struck the ball well for his second of the contest.
Portland nearly pushed the lead to two in the second half when a header at the far post off a cross caromed off the post in the 57th.
Spokane had several chances to tie it up in the second half. In the 63rd, they had two shouts for a penalty on fouls as they possessed the ball in the box before getting a shot off that was denied. Nine minutes later Smith fired a 24 yard effort that skimmed off the left side netting on the outside of the goal. He was also fouled driving toward the box in the 90th only to see the resulting free kick miss the mark.
Watters, who had several nice stops in the game, made one more dramatic save right before the final whistle when a shot from Omar Gomez was destined for back of the net inside the left post before the keeper made a flying, outstretched stop.
In their first meeting, the two sides appeared headed to a scoreless stalemate when host OSA FC scored in the final minute of regulation. The Shadow, though, stunned everyone as they quickly went down the field and answered with an equalizer in stoppage time to double the drama in the wild finish for a 1-1 draw.
SCHEDULE NOTES: Wednesday’s match was previously scheduled for SFCC as part of a doubleheader. The other match – Shadow 2 versus South Sound in EPLWA – has been postponed to mid-July (date/time TBA).
COMING UP THIS WEEKEND: The NWPL champion Shadow WFT plays Twin City on Saturday at 6:00 and 2016 runner-up South Sound Sunday at 5:00. Shadow 2 play host to Vancouver Saturday at 3:00 and Olympic Sunday at 2:00.