The Spokane Shadow soccer team picked up its fifth consecutive win Saturday night by defeating the Fontana (Calif.) Falcons 4-1 at Spokane Falls Community College.
The Shadow (6-1, 8-2 overall) lead the USISL Western Conference North Division while the Falcons are 3-3 and are in third place of the South Division.
This was the first meeting between the two teams and Shadow coach Einar Thorarinsson decided to have his team play low key at the start.
“We didn’t know anything about this team (and) we decided to be conservative on defense. Both teams just laid back and saw what the other team was doing,” he said.
Within the first 10 minutes, it was apparent Spokane had more speed and began to use it to its advantage. Chris Stiles responded by scoring the first goal at the 19:30 mark.
Stuart Saunders sent a pass up the middle to Stiles, who beat Falcons’ goalkeeper Mike Garland.
“They were pulling an offsides trap and I was on side and then it was a one-on-one with the keeper,” Stiles said.
“I tried to get him (Garland) to jump either to the left or the right and he didn’t really budge, so I had to go straight to the middle.”
Stiles scored again at the 42-minute mark off an assist by Zane Higgins. Stiles picked up the ball after a header and put it over Garland’s hands.
That made the score 2-0.
“Zane Higgins did a masterful job of drawing the defenders to the sideline and drove the ball towards the middle,” Stiles said.
The Shadow scored again 2-1/2 minutes later on a Jim Martinson cross kick. It was his fourth goal of the season and this one clinched the victory.
Martinson’s kick sent the ball sailing sideway past a sprawling Garland and into the opposite corner of the net.
“It was 1-0 until the last 5 minutes and then bang, bang, we had two goals and that was the game,” Thorarinsson said.
Thorarinsson said he thought the visitors didn’t have enough stamina to keep up with the pace and pressure put on by Spokane.
Shadow keeper John Nagel’s bid for a shutout was killed when Kris Swanson of Fontana scored at 67:00.
But the Shadow put the game back to a three-goal lead on Martinson’s second goal 9 minutes later. Nagel finished with seven saves for Spokane and was a major factor in the win.
One of Nagel’s saves was a leaping fingertip pass over the crossbar that left Falcons forward Victor Arana stunned over the miss. Only once did Nagel allow himself to get into trouble, but Kieran Barton’s header off a missed tip by Nagel kept the Falcons from scoring.
Stiles leads all Shadow players in goals with six. Martinson has five goals and one assist overall. The Shadow have been on a tear offensively their last three games scoring five, three and four goals, respectively.
Shadow 4, Falcons 1
First half - 1, Spokane, Stiles 19:30. 2, Spokane, Stiles (Higgins) 42:00. 3, Spokane, Martinson 44:30. Second half - 4, Fontana, Swanson 67:00. 5, Spokane, Martinson (Brown) 76:00.
Shots on goal: Fontana 10, Spokane 12. Saves: Fontana, Garland 5. Spokane, Nagel 7, Mullen 2.
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