OLYMPIA, WA— With a game winning last-minute goal on Saturday night, the Oly Town Artesians won their first road game in franchise history and took sole possession of second place in the Western Indoor Soccer League. But in the process, the Artesians lost one of their top players for an extended period of time and will travel to Bellingham a little banged up and with a chip on their shoulder.
Matt Stalnik found himself in the right spot at the right time when a shot across the box found him on the back post and the one touch banged into the back of the net to give the Artesians a 7-6 lead with 12.5 seconds left. But after letting go on the shot, Arlington’s Andrew Escalante recklessly slammed into Stalnik knocking him into the boards and bending his knee the wrong way. Escalante received a red card immediately and has been suspended by the WISL for two games while Stalnik could likely miss the rest of the season once the full extent of his injury is known.
The injury put a damper on what should have been a big celebration for the Artesians, who scored three goals in less than two minutes to erase a 5-3 Arlington lead midway through the fourth quarter. The win moved Oly to 2-1-0 with six points and they leapfrogged the Wenatchee Fire, who got blitzed by first place Tacoma, and the idle Bellingham United setting up a battle for second place this week when the Artesians take on the Hammers at the Bellingham Sportsplex on Saturday night at 7:20 PM.
Bellingham United enters the game on Saturday night at 1-1-1. In their opener on November 15th, the Hammers fell to Tacoma 4-3 before giving up a last second goal to Wenatchee in a 6-6 draw on November 22nd. Two weeks ago, Andrew Weishaar scored four goals in an 8-4 win over Arlington at the Sportsplex. The Western Washington alum earned WISL Player of the Week for his effort and is tied with the Artesians’ Greg Wolfe for second place in the WISL with five goals scored.
The Artesians are led by Wolfe’s five goals and Willie Spurr and Stalnik trail him with four goals each. Three of the top six goal scorers in the WISL are from Oly. Goalkeeper Mauricio Sanchez, despite the highest goals against average amongst keepers that have played multiple games, has been outstanding between the pipes and the numbers don’t back up how well he has played this season.
Fans can keep up with all the action on Saturday night from Bellingham by following the Artesians on Twitter at @OlyTownFC or by liking the Artesians on Facebook at Facebook.com/OlyTownFC.
The Artesians return to Olympia Indoor Soccer after the holidays when they get a rematch with Bellingham United on January 3rd. First kick is set for 6:00 PM, doors open at 5:00 PM. Advance tickets can be purchased at http://www.olytownfc.com or by calling (360) 561-7252.