Shadow Women win Inaugural NWPL title; MFT streak ends at 18

 

Needing just two points to lock up the championship in the debut season of the Northwest Premier League, the Shadow Women's First Team did that and more over the weekend with a dominating sweep of the Seattle Stars and Fuerza FC to clinch the NWPL Championship. Meanwhile, the Men's First Team extended their amazing road unbeaten to 18 games with a win over Seattle before seeing it come to an end the next day in Bellingham. 

WOMEN'S FIRST TEAM

The Shadow dominated the Stars at Starfire Complex behind the efforts of Marissa Mykines (pictured), who played a direct role in all four goals. She found Tiara Pittman-Thomas, who deftly finished for the opener 10 minutes into the contest. 

Her 20-yard shot in the 56th was saved by an outstretched keeper, allowing Sarah Cox to put away the rebound from about six yards. 

Ten minutes later Mykines tallied herself on a great individual effort, beating two defenders and ripping from the top of the arc. 

A well-driven low cross from the low cross out of the left corner of the pitch led to the final goal when defender Kira Kearsley deflected it into her own goal at the near post. 

Seattle's best chance came in the early stages of the match when Caitlin Garcia got the ball on the right with some space to run, but her shot from the top of the box flew wide left of the target. 

Shadow WFT 4-0 Seattle Stars
SPO: Tiara Pittman-Thomas (Marissa Mykines) 10
SPO: Sarah Cox 56
SPO: Marissa Mykines 66
SPO: Own Goal 76 

Despite playing a fresh Fuerza side that did not play the day before, the Shadow controlled the contest Sunday and allowed very few chances for the hosts. 

Coming off their NWPL championship-clinching victory Saturday, the Shadow got on the board early via a great counter that went up the middle of the park. Left back McKenna Stocker played it inward to Megan Lindsay to start the play. She quickly turned and dished it to Sarah Cox (pictured), who split the defense with a through ball that put Riley Martinson on a breakaway. The youngster beat the keeper to the ball, rounded her and finished into the empty net. 

The match saw the return of Lindsay to the lineup after spending the day with the Sounders Women for a game in Canada, but it was Cox's day in the spotlight. Ten minutes later she got a goal of her own on a partially cleared ball, letting loose a high shot with so much pace the outstretched hand of the netminder was not strong to stop it. 

Two minutes later Fuerza had their beat chance of the game when center back Savannah Coiner misplayed the ball, allowing a Fuerza striker to take possession about 30 yards out. Sienna Tanner, however, came out and made a huge save to keep the hosts off the board.

Five minutes before the break Cox nearly had a second when she got the ball just outside the six, but her quick shot clipped the outside of the near left post. 

With firm control of the match, Saturday's star performer Marissa Mykines locked things up around the hour mark, finishing a ball from Tiara Pittman-Thomas in the middle of the box.

The lone blemish on the scoresheet was the hosts goal with under two minutes. As second half sub goalkeeper Sarah Swanson came out to collect the ball, Coiner sent a pass back to the keeper only to see it slowly roll into the goal. 

The Shadow WFT now only have the season finale left on the slate as they are idle next week. They will be celebrating the league title at home at SFCC Saturday, July 30 as well as looking to avenge their lone defeat the season against against visiting second place South Sound, which registered the narrow 2-1 win in fresh legs against the Shadow ladies on the second half of a two-game trip.

Spokane Shadow WFT 3-1 Fuerza FC 
SPO: Riley Martinson (Sarah Cox) 14
SPO: Sarah Cox 25
SPO: Marissa Mykines (Tiara Pittman-Thomas) 60
FUE: Own goal 88

MEN'S FIRST TEAM

On Saturday evening the Shadow Men's First Team kept themselves in the title race with an early goal. Fernando Alvarez (pictured) nicely tapped in a ball from Alex McNeill 13 minutes in. 

A scramble in the box following a corner in the 28th minute finished with Alvarez getting his head on the ball and looping it over the goalkeeper, but Carlos Rodrigues managed to get his hand back just enough to tip it off the bar while a defender also attempted to leap and head it over from underneath. 

All-time leading EPLWA scorer Tyler Bjork had a chance for the hosts in the 35th minute with a shot from the right that soared wide left. 

The Shadow constantly threatened the hosts in the second half only to be denied. In the 51st, a Jesse Retan free kick from 25 yards was headed by Sam Joy just over the bar. 

A minute later the Stars keeper took a bad touch on the ball, allowing Drew Williams to take possession of the ball. He turned to deliver it to the open Anthony Mota, but his strike was stopped by an excellent diving header from Jacob Grabowski.

Bjork had another good shot the 54th, but his hard-struck effort to tie it up was denied by Tony Watters, who quickly bounced up to grab the dangerous rebound. 

A flurry of chances over the course of about nine minutes came to a close with Spokane creating a scare once again. Kazuki Tateishi took the ball to the left and found Mota at the near post, but his shot was denied by Rodrigues. 

Shadow MFT 1-0 Seattle Stars 
SPO: Fernando Alvarez (Alex McNeill) 13 

On Sunday in Bellingham, however, it was a moment in history as the Shadow Men's First Team were handed their first-ever EPLWA road loss in 19 outings over the course of three seasons. 

The MFT found themselves trailing at the break 1-0 on a stoppage time tally by Brendan Quillici, who put away an 18-yard shot on a second-chance ball that rolled out to him. 

The two sides, locked in a heated battle in the chase to catch Vancouver for the title, remained in a stalemate until the 81st minute when a Thiago Novis cross was headed in by Richard Henderson. 

With three minutes left Fernando Alvarez put Spokane back in reach on a ball from Michael Mollay. His initial shot was denied by a defender, but the rebound came back to him and he knocked it past the keeper off his thigh. 

The rally, though, came up short and for the first time in three seasons in the league, the team tasted defeat on the road. The streak finished at 15-0-3 with identical 6-0-1 records the first two championship campaigns and a 3-0-1 mark this year before the defeat. 

The Shadow MFT return to the road for two more games away from home before their season finale at SFCC July 30 (6:30) versus South Sound. They visit league-leading Vancouver Victory Saturday at 7:00. The Victory will be looking to clinch the league title while the Shadow will be out to hand the 9-0-2 side their first defeat of the campaign. On the way home Sunday, the Shadow will stop in Wenatchee for a 5:00 matchup against the Capitals. 

Spokane Shadow MFT 1-2 Bellingham United 
BEL: Brendan Quilici 45+
BEL: Richard Henderson (Thiago Naves) 81
SPO: Fernando Alvarez 87 

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