The Spokane Shadow Men's and Women's First Teams came back to Spokane for their home openers on Saturday, after starting their seasons on the road in Yakima last weekend. The Shadow WFT won 9-0 in dominating fashion against the Twin City Union while the Shadow MFT fell to the Vancouver Victory by a score of 3-0 in front of a crowd of 732 for the doubleheader at Spokane Falls CC Stadium.
Twin City Union 0 :: 9 Spokane Shadow Women's First Team
The Women's First Team improved to 2-0 on the young season, and left no doubt in the process. Tiara Pittman-Thomas registered a hat-trick, while Megan Lindsay added two goals and a bundle of assists. The Shadow looked sharp throughout the match, out-shooting their opponents 32-2 and controlling an unquestioned majority of the possession.
"Very pleased with the performance of the team overall," said assistant coach Jael Hagerott, who was at the helm for the evening. "All the players contributed. We had some great finishes and good movement off the ball. I think we started a little bit shaky getting our legs underneath us in front of the home crowd, but they did incredibly well.
"It's tough," Hagerott added about getting the players in rhythm with one another in such a short period. "We are just getting the girls, and we are gonna have a bunch of college girls coming back, so it's kind of like a roving animal for us. But for where we are at, I think you couldn't be more happy to have a home opener have that type of score. But it's still always a process of development for us, and we'll continue building on the success the team has had so far."
Six different players scored the first six goals of the contest. They opened the scoring 14 minutes in when a bouncing ball in midfield after a Shadow punt was finally collected at the midfield stripe by Marissa Mykines, who drove 15 yards before slotting a ball right up the middle that allowed Lindsay to split a pair of defenders. Goalkeeper Sunny DeBoer gets a piece of the shot, but it continued into the back of the net.
"Megan is unstoppable right now, I think," Hagerott said. "Just touches and movement on and off the ball; her finishes, she's a key link for the team on the field and just phenomenal game."
They doubled the advantage in the 34th when McKenna Stocker, well forward on the right touchline, dropped a ball diagonally to Kasey Rubosky, who took a touch and then ripped a ball from about 24 yards in off the bottom of the crossbar.
Lindsay turned provider a minute later to make it three before the break. She beat a defender in the right midfield and as another approached sent a well-paced low ball diagonally to Sarah Cox, who received the ball just inside the left corner of the penalty arc with a defender on her back. Cox spun to her left and quickly fired inside the left post from 14 yards.
Already down three, Twin City suffered another blow when DeBoer was unable to continue in goal for the second half due to the effects of the unseasonably hot temperatures.
Sixteen minutes into the second half, the Shadow attack began to really click. A throw-in on the left side to Lindsay allowed the striker to take the ball into the corner and send a lofted ball into the six that fell near the far right post just a foot off the line. Kellie Zakrzewski was there to just nudge it in.
Three minutes later a diagonal ball out of midfield was sent to Zakrzewski on the right flank. She cut in behind the defense and continued all the way to the penalty spot before dishing it off into the path of the oncoming Pittman-Thomas for a first-time finish from six yards.
Tasha Luu became the sixth scorer in the 71st minute. Lindsay got the ball on the right side and drove all the way to the end line at the corner of the six before slipping the ball back to the top of the six to a wide open Luu for the easy finish.
Five minutes later Pittman-Thomas tallied her second. Katie Bischoff collected a loose ball at midfield and beat a defender to continue her run forward before dishing wide right to Mykines, putting her behind the defense. Mykines drove in to the right edge of the box before sending a low cross that Pittman-Thomas one-timed at the top of the six.
"It feels really good," Pittman-Thomas said after the game. "I've been kind of struggling with an ankle injury in the start and just being sick, so it was goal to kind of have ice in my veins today and just be collected. I feel I did really well with that so I was happy.
"I think - seeing that this is our second game - we've done a really, really good job at keeping the ball and starting to read the game more. We are starting to get more familiar with each other and recognizing what each others' strengths and weaknesses are. I think that helped with the possession and being able to play well together."
Pittman-Thomas then set up Lindsay for her second goal. She got the ball and took it deep into the left corner before turning and coming back. Midway up the 18 she quickly fired a cross into the box, where Lindsay separated from a defender and easily put it away from inside the six in the 82nd minute.
"We played a little bit of soccer together with the Spokane Shine, so I got to play with Lindsay before," Pittman-Thomas said of how her and Lindsay combined on the day. "And I grew up playing soccer in the Spokane area and competing against and with her. It's really fun playing with her again. She's an awesome player and its fun when you know she'll make that run for you on the receiving end."
Lindsay echoed her comments about their past experience playing a part in their current chemistry, and how things are progressing for the team as a whole.
"I think definitely the chemistry is there. I have played a lot with Marissa and Tiara and we are kind of on the same page as far as that," Lindsay said. "At practices the chemistry is still there and we are getting better each time. We are better at having a more proactive sense of getting to passes instead of reactive sense.
"I thought it was way better than our first game in Yakima. We set the momentum and kept the momentum, which was harder in the first game to do. I think the girls played awesome. I think we played a way better direct sense of attack so I think we had a lot of opportunities that didn't go in. I think we can capitalize on that next game, so it's all stepping stones from here."
The hat-trick was complete just a minute later for Pittman-Thomas. Right back Katie Greene got the ball on the right side and sent a cross into the center of the box. Pittman-Thomas brought it down with her knee and knocked it in off the underside of the crossbar.
"Her movement off the ball was fantastic," Hagerott said. "She has this turn where she's able to get around everybody, and she sells out in front of goal. The service was quality enough that she was right on the money and there to finish it.
Megan Lindsay (Marissa Mykines) 14
Kasey Rubosky (McKenna Stocker) 34
Sarah Cox (Megan Lindsay) 35
Kellie Zakrzewski (Megan Lindsay) 61
Tiara Pittman-Thomas (Kellie Zakrzewski) 64
Tasha Luu (Megan Lindsay) 71
Tiara Pittman-Thomas (Marissa Mykines) 76
Megan Lindsay (Tiara Pittman-Thomas) 82
Tiara Pittman-Thomas (Katie Greene) 83
Vancouver Victory 3 :: 0 Spokane Shadow Men's First Team
It was quite a different home-opening experience for the Men’s First Team. The visiting Vancouver Victory struck for their first goal in the 7th minute low ball into the box from Austin Jacobson was fired at goal by Elvis Pavon, finding Armando Guevara along the way for the close-range finish.
The Shadow thought they had a chance to equalize later in the half on a controversial play. An initial shot from Sam Engle was denied, but the follow-up effort from Jesse Retan deflected to goal, where it was stopped on the line by Vancouver defender Christo Michaelson, who dove sideways to make the block in the area of his chest, drawing shouts of a handball, which would have resulted in a penalty and red card. Instead, the Shadow continued to search for an equalizer.
"There were plenty of other opportunities for us get back in it. We can hem and haw all we want, but there's no point in it - it's nothing we can control," Shadow head coach Chad Brown said after the game. "We just have to do a better job of closing gaps and being tougher in the middle of the park and tougher in the box and second balls. We talked about it at halftime. The mentality was the key phrase we talked about at halftime and they had more of it today than we did."
The Shadow hung tough for the remainder of the first half, and would ultimately out-shoot Vancouver 9-7 in the full 90 minutes. However, it was the Victory's night, finishing the game with three shots on goal and three goals.
Shadow midfielder Kazuki Tateishi had one of several chances to pull even with a nice bit of play in the 65th.
The second tally came in the 69th minute on a free kick well out in midfield. Ben Culpan delivered a curving ball from the right side diagonally to the left side of the six where an attempted defensive header instead found its way into the back of the net.
Pushing to get a late goal, Shadow goalkeeper Raymond Ruano was well out of goal when a bouncing ball into the midfield was chipped over by Elvis Pavon in the final minute of stoppage time.
"Vancouver was good. Two years in a row they have started off real strong and we knew that coming in. We weren't prepared enough, and that's nobody's fault - it's definitely not the guys' fault. I'll take responsibility for it. But, there's a handful of guys that have not been at practice yet, so none of these guys have really trained together. Not excuses, though. Hats off to them. They scored three goals and we didn't get any.
"I think we created chances both games, and had chances to win in Yakima, chances to go even here and created a couple other chances. We have to be sharper in the final third for sure. I think we have guys that can finish, its just making sure we are little sharper. And that for me, it takes time. To find guys to get the rhythm and runs they like to make. The only way you can get that is by practicing together."
Armando Guevara (Elvis Pavon) 7
Own goal 69
Elvis Pavon 91
The Shadow First Teams will continue their seasons next weekend with a trip to play a pair of doubleheaders with the Olympic Force (Bremerton) and South Sound Shock (Tacoma) on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.