By the time the Spokane Shadow were done being generous, they had given away their 10-game winning streak.
The Puget Sound Hammers, one of only two soccer teams to beat the Shadow this year, became the first to do it twice with a 3-1 victory on a beautiful Saturday night at Spokane Falls Community College.
The loss won’t hurt the Shadow’s standing in the Northern Division of the USISL Premier League’s Western Conference. Spokane is well out in front and headed for the playoffs at 9-2 in league, 13-3 overall.
“It’s going to be hard to find some good out of this,” forward Jim Martinson said. “Especially with a tough game coming up.”
Spokane is home Friday night against the San Diego Top Gun.
Martinson gave Spokane hope when his ninth goal midway through the second half cut Puget Sound’s lead to 2-1, but 3 minutes later Nick Kalafatich completed his hat trick and, with a little good fortune, the Hammers hung on.
“They’re quick all around the field,” Martinson said. “They play hard, they have a good target up front and I think they had a little luck tonight.”
With 11 minutes left, Zane Higgins appeared to push in Spokane’s second goal, but the linesman didn’t signal that the ball crossed the goal line before a defenseman kicked it out. Then, with 5-1/2 minutes to play, an off-sides nullified another goal.
“They didn’t count when they should have counted,” Spokane coach Einar Thorarinsson said. “We were a little slow coming out. We made a few defensive errors - two goals were caused by lapses on defense. We had a couple of missed opportunities early. They didn’t have many, but they made good on theirs.”
Spokane had a half-dozen opportunities in the first half while the Hammers had a pair, but just 2:22 before halftime, Kalafatich took a defender one-on-one before moving right and kicking the ball back to his left, past keeper John Nagel.
Nagel then slipped trying to defend a long boot to the Spokane end, and Kalafatich stepped around him to the ball, facing a wide-open net. Kalafatich got his third goal when the ball bounced off his back into the goal.
“They’re the best team we’ve seen this year that matches up with us,” Martinson said. “I don’t think (the streak created pressure); the pressure came from facing our toughest competition.”
The Hammers improved to 6-3 in league, 9-6 overall. Earlier, they lost to Spokane 2-1 before beating the Shadow 4-2.
The Shadow played without midfielder Kieran Barton, who was sitting out because of the number of yellow cards he has received, and one of the top scorers, Dave Berto, who has a hamstring injury.
Hammers 3, Shadow 1
First half - 1, PS, Kalafatich, unassisted, 43rd minute. Second half - 2, PS, Kalafatich, unassisted, 62nd minute. 3, Spokane, Martinson (Higgins), 69th minute. 4, PS, Kalafatich, unassisted, 72nd minute.
Shots on goal - PS 13, Spokane 14. Saves - Granade (PS) 4; Nagel (Spokane) 5. Att. - 1,312
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
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