SPOKANE, WA— (club release) The now two-time reigning Evergreen Premier League champion Spokane Shadow will wrap up its second title campaign Saturday evening at Spokane Falls CC Stadium at 7:00 against one of the league’s hottest teams, the Olympic Force, after clinching the EPLWA title last weekend on it’s two-game trip to play Seattle and Bellingham.
Spokane, currently, 10-1-2, hold a four-point edge over South Sound, which will finish second for the second consecutive season. The Shadow head into the finale on a 10-game unbeaten run and eight-game win streak that edged out Vancouver’s mark from their perfect seven-game start to the campaign. Spokane can also finish with a better record than last year’s squad and are in position to finish first in the league in offense and defense.
It was a special week for a pair of Shadow players.
Tony Watters was named EPLWA Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in goal against Bellingham. Both he and fellow goalkeeper Jeff Srock have now been honored along with Brady Ulen, Karl Muelheims and Adam Talley.
Following the road trip, Chance Bukoski returned to the west side midweek for a one-day trial with Sounders 2 of the United Soccer League that turned into a two-day stint with the professional reserve side operated by the Major League Soccer Sounders. Bukoski will be back in Spokane for Saturday’s finale.
Shadow Water Bottle Giveaway presented by Wendy’s
The first 300 fans attending the Season Finale and Championship Celebration will received a Spokane Shadow water bottle Saturday evening courtesy of Wendy’s restaurants. There is an extra special treat as the first 100 fans will get a Wendy’s Frosty to enjoy. The Shadow will once again also be featuring the ever-popular Candy Rush at halftime.
About the Opposition: Olympic Force
The league newcomers needed a little time to get into the swing if things with a 1-5-0 start, but with a 5-2-0 record since then, the Bremerton-based side has been one of the better teams in the league with their only defeats coming at the hands of the Shadow and second-place South Sound.
The first meeting was a historic match between the two as it was the league’s first-ever morning contest, kicking off at 9:30 am. No game had ever started earlier than 1:00. The Shadow cruised to a 3-0 victory despite playing to a 0-0 draw the day before in a crucial match against South Sound. Karl Muelheims scored the opener in the 25th and Chance Bukoski doubled the lead before halftime in the 35th. Anthony Mota capped the game in the 83rd.
The trip started off in Everett with a bang as the Shadow dominated against the Stars from the start and quickly had a man advantage to go with it after Ramon Ramos was sent off 15 minutes in for a second caution, both coming in response to tackles from behind. The continual attack went without dividends until Kazuki Tateishi finally broke through on a long ball from midfield that put the midfielder behind the defense, leaving him alone with only Scott Barnum to beat with a shot from about 11 yards four minutes before the break.
Seattle answered via Ernesto Bueno early in the second half on a long ball from the back that bounced high and was unable to be corralled by the Shadow defense or goalkeeper Jeff Srock in the 54th.
Spokane reclaimed the lead, though, with the help of two high school talents. In the 68th minute a ball out to JD Hauenstein on the left was put into the six by the Central Valley standout and Moses Lake product Jonathan Cortez knocked it in. A short time later another Hauenstein ball from the left was nicely finished from about 15 yards out by Anthony Mota in the 77th.
Chance Bukoski registered his team-leading fifth goal of the campaign to cap the scoring in fantastic fashion. He took a short ball from Colon Shockman at the midfield stripe and with the defender on his back just off the right touchline, he spun and pulled away from his marker as he drove toward goal and scored from about 10 yards out with four minutes left in the contest.
The result pushed the Shadow atop the EPLWA table past an idle South Sound and for the first time in two years, Spokane took the field as league leaders the following day in Bellingham.
Coming off their first win of the year the day before and a draw against South Sound the week prior, Bellingham looked to play spoilers, but despite several looks, the Hammers were only able to muster a few great saves from Tony Watters as the Shadow posted its league-leading fifth shutout of the year.
A foul in the area in the first half gave Spokane the lead via a Zack Hamer conversion from the spot when Conner Bevans was taken down driving up the right side of the area. In the second half, the Shadow added some insurance on a very nice play when Shockman slipped the ball through the middle of the backline into the diagonal run of Adam Talley. The striker, headed to Bellingham to play for Western Washington in the fall, rounded the keeper and knocked the ball into the open net from 17 yards.
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