In two halves of soccer, 1,325 fans got to see the good and bad of the Spokane Shadow.
The USISL Premier League team played its last preseason game at Albi Stadium Saturday night, defeating the Kelowna Challenge 2-1 with a dominating first half before hanging on in the second half.
“In the first half you saw what the Shadow is and what the Shadow can be, and in the second half what we have to work on,” said assistant coach Damon Hagerott, who was filling in for absent head coach Sean Bushey. “I’m real pleased. We have work to do but we looked good.”
After a couple of shaky moments early in the first half, the Shadow took control and had a 2-0 lead on a pair of goals by Zane Higgins, an All-Star last year when the team won the North Division title.
Kieran Barton got the ball to Higgins on the left side about 15 yards out and Higgins crossed a line drive into the right side of the net in the 26th minute.
The second goal came on a long feed down the middle to Jeff Rose, who caught up with the high bounce at the same time a Challenge defender arrived and headed the ball to his left. Higgins got the ball and slid it straight ahead just inside the left post.
“Technically we’re just fast,” Hagerott said. “We knew that last year but the turf makes us faster. We put pressure on, knock balls loose with our speed.”
Higgins, one of the leading scorers in the country last year, said, “I think we’re doing well on the turf. I think that’s going to be a big advantage to us.”
Spokane had a number of chances to bury the Challenge, who beat the Shadow 3-1 in Kelowna last weekend, but couldn’t connect.
Eight minutes into the second half, Chris Brown scored for Kelowna but missed several chances to tie.
“We still have to tighten up, you saw that in the second half,” Hagerott said. “I would expect that to come.”
The Shadow opens league play on the road next weekend.
Shadow 2, Challenge 1
First half - 1, Spokane, Higgins (Barton), 26:30. 2, Spokane, Higgins (J.Rose), 42:15. Second half - 3, Kelowna, Brown (Tzatt), 53.43.
Shots on goal - Kelowna 9, Spokane 16. Saves - Kelowna, Bekar 6; Spokane, Pilcher 5. Attn: 1,325.
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