Welcome to the State of the EPLWA, a weekly update that will be posted early in the week during the regular season. See previous editions here.
Offense returned to the Evergreen Premier League last weekend as 25 goals were scored in the five matches played. The goal onslaught changed the race for goalKING, as Tyler Bjork (Hammers) netted two more to raise his total to eleven. Jordan Jones (Victory) scored a hat trick to bring his tally up to seven. In Silverdale Izzy Deluna scored three over two matches to jump into the race with five.
The results favored the leaders as Vancouver and South Sound both won, continuing their one-point-difference battle for the top spot. South Sound has a 25-24 lead and a match in hand. Bellingham announced that they aren’t quite done yet as they improved to 19, ahead of idle Spokane’s 19 on the goal differential tiebreaker.
Attendance took a hit last weekend as the overall league season average dipped to 297 per match. Bellingham’s experiment with playing a home match on a Saturday night (they traditionally play Sunday matinees) didn’t work as the Hammers drew an announced crowd of 287, about half their average.
THIS WEEK: Saturday July 5th: Bellingham at Yakima, South Sound at Wenatchee. Sunday July 6th: Vancouver at Spokane, WestSound at Seattle.
|EVERGREEN PREMIER LEAGUE||Pts||GP||W||L||T||GF||GA||GD|
|SOUTH SOUND FC||25||10||8||1||1||19||6||+13|
|VANCOUVER VICTORY FC||24||11||8||3||0||29||20||+9|
|BELLINGHAM UNITED FC||19||11||6||4||1||28||18||+10|
|YAKIMA UNITED FC||13||12||4||7||1||26||36||-10|
|WENATCHEE UNITED FC||12||11||4||7||0||22||26||-4|
|SEATTLE STARS FC||7||10||2||7||1||15||23||-8|
South Sound are using the old saying “defense wins championships” to continue their hold on the top spot in the EPLWA. The Shock have scored more than two goals in a match only once, but they are giving up under a goal per match (.6) as the “Stingy Six” approach a grasp of the first EPLWA trophy. Chris Kintz got his fourth shut out on Saturday as South Sound did enough to beat Yakima 2-0 at Harry Lang Stadium. The Shock’s final four matches are: at Wenatchee, Seattle, at Bellingham, at Vancouver. Their “magic number” is 10. If they get 10 points out of those four matches, no one can catch them. It’s a very tall order, with huge season-enders at Bellingham and at Vancouver.
The Victory knew that in order to stay in the race they would need to turn around their road form. So far, so good. Wins at Yakima and last Saturday at WestSound are keeping the border club right up close to South Sound. Jordan Jones hit for the hat trick to lead the 4-2 win in Silverdale. The Victory have played one more match than the Shock. That means V2FC might need to win out to take it all. Not an easy task by any means as all three of the Vancouver matches left are against Spokane (twice) and South Sound. Still, this puts the chance squarely at their own feet.
All Hammers matches are now “must win” as they try to stay alive for the league title. BUFC got the job done last Saturday against Wenatchee as Tyler Bjork scored twice. This week Bellingham plays at Yakima for the first time in their history. The weather is expected to be near 90 degrees at kick off. The Hammers finish with home contests against Seattle and South Sound. Bellingham’s chances at a championship are slim in part because they have played eleven of their fourteen matches. South Sound has played ten, Spokane just nine. Even if the Shock were somehow to tie their last four, that would still put them at 29 points, a total the Hammers can’t reach.
Before the season started there was buzz around the Shadow as they signed five players from Gonzaga and hinted that they would have high-profile “guest” players as well. Then the club went out and dropped its first two home matches, to Bellingham and Yakima. The slow start is long-since gone, as the Shadow have won six and tied one in their last seven. Thing is, that same distant poor start could be a killer in a season with little room for error. The Shadow are going into a make-or-break stretch, and it is hard to know if they should be title favorites, or if they have too difficult a task ahead. Five matches in two weeks will ask a lot of questions and supply plenty of answers. First comes a Sunday-Thursday back-to-back set with Vancouver, home then away. Then a trip to Yakima that everyone will point to as a ‘banana peel’ match against their biggest rivals. Then home matches that should be won against Seattle and Wenatchee on back-to-back days. Is that a recipe for a championship? We’ll find out starting Sunday.
The Hoppers earned a tough 3-2 win at WestSound on Sunday to stop a streak that lasted a month. The previous Yakima win was on May 30th at Marquette, a 5-2 victory over WestSound. The win pulled the Hoppers back above Wenatchee and into fifth place. Now the Yakima group can play spoiler the rest of the way and try to finish as high as fourth. YUFC have played 12 of their 14 league matches. Just two remain, both at home and both against clubs higher than the Hoppers in the standings. This weekend Bellingham visits in a must-win for the Hammers. Next will be Spokane, deep into the title hunt and wanting revenge for their late collapse against the Hoppers in Spokane. Plenty for Yakima to play for, and a chance for Hoppers supporters to see some great soccer.
It all went wrong for the Capitals over the weekend. Going in with a three match winning streak, WUFC came home after two losses and having surrendered nine goals. A 4-2 loss in Bellingham on Saturday was followed by a 5-1 loss at Seattle on Sunday. Now WUFC can set their sights on trying to finish as high as 5th place. It won’t be easy as they face two of the three contenders. This week South Sound comes to town. Then the Capitals finish away at WestSound and Spokane.
The Stars could finish as high as 5th if they can do some damage in their last four matches. The club scored a 5-1 win over Wenatchee on Sunday night to bolster their morale. That’s a hopeful sign for a group that has matches left against WestSound, Bellingham, South Sound and Spokane. The Stars’ two wins this year are both against the Capitals. They are 0-4 so far against their final four foes.
WestSound will need at least one more win to have a chance of staying out of last place. The Silverdale crew played well over the weekend, but came out just behind 4-2 and 3-2 score lines. Izzy Deluna arrived on the EPLWA scene with three goals over the two matches. The striker now has five, easily leading the club. After 12 matches, all that remains are a visit to Seattle and a home finale with Wenatchee. The season will be over for WestSound on July 13. Next year the club will likely go by the name “Kitsap Alliance FC.”
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