by Merrick Parnell
With playoff implications on the line, Seattle Sporting (Sporting) made the trek to the Kent Showare center to take on the South Sound Shock. Just weeks earlier the Shock, who play outdoor soccer in the Evergreen Premier League (EPLWA), took over the Tacoma Galaxy’s schedule after the team was folded.
A win for Sporting would mean a playoff birth in the Premier Arena Soccer League’s Northwest Division. A loss would put Sporting into a must-win game against the first place Olympic Force.
The match provided both South Sound and Sporting an opportunity to play in a professional venue, which is home to the Major Arena Soccer League’s Tacoma Stars.
“It’s a great experience for the guys to play here. We [Sporting] are used to playing in smaller arenas. All of our players aspire to play at a high level and the fact that they get a chance to play in an arena this big and in front of the front office of a pro club is going to help the players take their game up a notch,” said Sporting General Manager, Aaron Johnson.
Sporting set the tempo right off the first kickoff, as they would score a quick goal by Jordan Correa at 14:41. Sporting would keep up the pace as they blasted the Shock with many quality-scoring chances. Esteban Reyes would score again for Sporting at 10:00 to give them a 2-0 lead.
Seattle would complement its offensive production with a strong defensive showing, as they snuffed out the Shock’s attack. The Shock’s first real scoring chance came at 10:30, but was stopped by a diving effort from goalkeeper Jeff Renslo. Renslo would be tested again at 8:30 when he slammed the door shut on yet another Shock scoring chance.
South Sound finally scored at 6:03. Sporting however would go onto score four unanswered goals to end the first half with a 5-1 lead.
“Our offense is our best defense. When we just try to press them, steal the ball and score,” said Sporting’s Correa.
The 3rd period started off with another solid scoring chance for Seattle, but Cory Hendrickson was denied.
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Hendrickson would however provide a sharp pass to teammate Correa for Sporting’s 6th goal, which came just under the nine minute mark.
In keeping with their precise and speedy counter attack, Seattle would score again at to make it 7-1 in the 3rd frame.
The Shock would score their second goal at 1:10 in the 3rd period.
Seattle Sporting would maintain a 7-2 lead at the end of the three.
In the 4th period, South Sound would score on another hard fought chance, putting away a ball that was bobbled in front of the Seattle crease. Riding a slight shift of momentum South Sound would score another goal to cut the Sporting lead to 7-3.
The fourth period would be by far the Shock’s best of the match as they would go on a 5 goal-scoring streak. At 2:11, Southsound would bring the game to with in 3 scores. Then at 1:43, the Shock would score to bring the game with in two goals. Clinging to a 11-9 lead, Seattle would take a blue card at 8 seconds, but would be able to kill the last 8 seconds to hold on for the win.
Correa would finish with a hat trick performance with his stellar three goals. Esteban Reyes would finish with two goals of his own, and Hendrickson would lead in the assist category with three.
With their playoff birth, Sporting will now prep for a highly anticipated match against the Olympic Force on Saturday February, 21st at Everett Soccer Arena.