Stars find redemption in Spokane with 1-1 draw
|Saturday’s contest in Spokane was a case of two completely different halves | Full Gallery [+]|
The home opener for the reigning Evergreen Premier League champion Spokane Shadow did not go as expected. Coming off an 8-2 season opening win at Wenatchee, the Shadow came out flat in the second half and saw the visiting Seattle Stars take control and snare a 1-1 draw.
For Seattle, it was redemption for a team that came to Spokane on the final weekend of the season with only nine players and were walked all over in an 11-0 defeat.
It took a while to redeem themselves, however, as the Shadow controlled the first half of the contest. A few minutes into the match Graison Le (Gonzaga University / Coeur d’Alene HS) drove into the box but shot swerved wide of the mark. In the seventh minute Adam Talley (North Idaho College / East Valley HS) launched a shot from about 15 yards that zipped just past the left post.
The hosts continue to maintain most of the possession and were regularly finding ways to get into the area, but were unable to finish their chances. In the 32nd minute, though, another Le run across the outer left corner of the area created the opening goal when a Stars defender tripped him up just inside the area, sending the Shadow to the spot. Sam Engle (Whitworth) converted, sending his effort into the back right corner out of Scott Barnum’s reach for his third goal of the season.
“The penalty, kinda just came off a freak play. They kinda lost it in the back and I saw an opportunity, so I made the run. Talley made a great ball in to me,” said Le about the play leading to the foul. “The defender was trying to get a foot on it, but he took me down and I was glad I could get us a pk. Congrats to Engle for putting it away for us.”
“It wasn’t our best game. We didn’t outplay them, but we definitely should have,” he said of the result. “I think we would have come out with the win if we did.”
With the half coming to close, Seattle began to show signs of growing comfortable with the team in front of them and nearly took the game to the break on equal terms. With three minutes left Peiman Alessandro struck a ball on the volley from the top of the box that sliced wide of the left post.
|Peiman Alessandro (L)|
Then in stoppage time, a ball poorly distributed out of the area by goalkeeper Jeff Srock to the right was stolen by Alessandro, who drove toward goal and fired a diagonal shot past the recovering keeper from about 22 yards that smacked off the far right end of the crossbar.
In the second half, the Stars took firm command of possession and were showing excellent form in ball control, with nearly every touch seeming perfect. The performance kept the hosts from gaining possession and allowed the Stars to put the Shadow under pressure.
For most of the second period, though, the Stars were still largely unable to penetrate the area and were forced into long shots that missed the mark or were gathered by Srock. Anderson Dias unleashed a shot in the 15th minute that whistled wide o fhb left post and another shot from the Stars eight minutes later came pretty close.
In the 25th minute Alessandro took the ball to the enplane and drove in toward the six, where his shot was stuffed by Srock.
The equalizer finally came in the 78th minute for the visitors when a turnover at midfield gave the Stars a chance to run at goal with some space. Two of the visitors drove toward the left side of the area and took the ball down the outside of the box to the end line where they drove back into the area and put the ball into the six. With Srock having been drawn toward the near post to handle the threat, the ball into the middle gave the Stars an open look that was initially thwarted by a defender, but the second chance was knocked in by Leo Matsuda.
“I thought we did pretty well in the first half. I thought we controlled the majority of it, but I feel like we lacked energy in the first half and I feel like we really lacked energy in the second half. They put us under quite a bit of pressure and we just struggled a little bit with it in the second half,” said Shadow head coach Chad Brown. “I’ll take responsibility. I made a sub that I don’t normally do, dealing with some guys that are hurt or weren’t really getting it done trying to catch their legs and fitness. It was a chance I took and I failed on it so I’ll take responsibility for them getting a point out of it. We have to be better – at the end of the day we’ll get better, move on.”
“For right now, we are in a better spot than we were last year; we’re fine.”
Next week the Shadow play host to the Vancouver Victory while the Stars host Bellingham United. Both games are Saturday evening.