Hand it to the Spokane Shadow. They really know how to hold a crowd.
For at least the fifth time this season - and team officials suspect the number is larger, perhaps representing more than half their wins - the never-fade Shadow avoided defeat with a late rally.
As the San Diego Top Guns shot nothing but blanks in the second half, Spokane forced overtime before prevailing 2-1 in a USISL Premier League match before a crowd of 1,381 on a picture-perfect evening Friday at Spokane Falls Community College.
With 8:36 remaining in regulation, Ryan Edwards headed in the tying goal from 3 yards out past Top Guns goalie Joe Panian. The score was set up off two headers, the assist coming from Jeff Rose.
The Shadow didn’t keep the patient crowd waiting long when the match went to a 15-minute overtime. In fact, just 2:30 elapsed when Spokane scored the winner.
Rose, the Shadow’s sparkplug off the bench, dribbled across the middle and dropped off a beautiful pass to midfielder Kieran Barton, who struck the ball with authority from 18 yards out and sent it into the deep right corner of the goal.
It was Barton’s second goal of the season, his first in 14 matches since May 11.
Barton thought he should have scored much sooner - at least in the first half, when all the Shadow could show for dominating the offensive end of the field was tired legs from missed opportunities.
“It just fell for me perfect,” Barton said of the assist from Rose. “He set himself great right before overtime, so I was waiting for him to tee it up for himself. But it just rolled out for me and I called him off. I missed one in the first half I should have had so it was nice.”
Spokane moved its Northern Divisionleading record to 10-2-1, 14-3-1 overall. San Diego slipped to 7-3-1 in the Southern Division, 10-6-1 overall.
Barton, among others, noted the Shadow are becoming known as a comeback team.
“The good teams seem to win the close games,” Barton said. “It’s easy to beat the bad teams 4 and 5 to 0. We needed all three points (teams earn one point for shootout victories) so we had to do it in overtime. A shootout win wouldn’t have really helped us much.”
Shadow goalie Bill May, in his first start, probably should have had a shutout. San Diego’s goal, which came nearly 38 minutes into the 45-minute first half, occurred when Spokane’s defense broke down momentarily.
Gabriel Maumbough stole the ball and fed a breaking Nate Hetherington, who slipped past two defenders and found himself one-on-one with May. Had Hetherington missed, it would have been akin to missing a wide-open layup in basketball.
“Hey, it’s a win, it doesn’t matter how late it comes,” a smiling May said.
May was thankful that he stands 6-foot-2. He needed every inch, including a few from his extended arms, when he tipped a shot over the net with 35 seconds remaining.
“It was dipping pretty hard,” said May, who had five saves.
All-Stars on TV
The USISL All-Star game in Blaine, Minn., which will include Shadow forward Zane Higgins, will be televised live in Spokane on Cox Cable channel 25 Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. PDT.
The game also will be aired on a tape-delayed basis at 9 a.m. Sunday, July 21, on Prime Sports, channel 25.
Higgins is fourth in the USISL in scoring with 28 points and third with 10 assists.
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