With the largest crowd in franchise history helping carry the weight, the Spokane Shadow ignored the giant bull’s e ye on its back.
The Shadow played their best game of the season for 2,011 fans Saturday night, destroying Yakima 4-0 at Albi Stadium just one night after their worst game in two years.
“We didn’t run last night,” Shadow star Dave Berto said, referring to the team’s dismal effort in a 2-1 road loss to the Cascade Surge. “We didn’t have a choice. If we didn’t come back tonight it would have been a long season. It’s a matter of pride. (We’re) not desperate, they’re all gunning for us.”
He has a point. The Shadow (8-1, 9-2) reached the midway point of the season with a huge lead in the USISL Premier League Northwest Division.
“We take it one game at a time,” Berto said of the team’s focus. “You’re only as good as your last game and the last one wasn’t good.”
Now it is.
In the sixth minute, Berto tried a cross that deflected off a Reds’ defender right to Joe Marks, who was alone inside the box and had an easy time against Derek Collins for his second goal. About 12 minutes before halftime, a similar situation left Jim Martinson wide open in about the same place and he scored his first.
Instead of getting tentative, which has been a Shadow tendency with the lead, the team kept pressing.
In the 75th minute, Jeff Rose turned the ball 180 degrees with a defender on his back, feeding Berto down the middle for an easy goal, his eighth, against new keeper Kenny Freisz. With 8 minutes to play, Berto started a great run down the right side with a fancy move, turned in at the endline and gave Rose an easy goal, his second, from the doorstep.
“We’ve lost twice and each time we responded,” Shadow coach Sean Bushey said. “Tonight was our best game of the year. The second half was our best defense of the year.”
“We contained the midfield a lot better than in the past and gave our defense support,” Berto said. “They’ve been left out there alone. It clicked tonight.”
Two high school senior all-star games were played before the Shadow took the field. A Greater Spokane League girls team edged the Frontier League 3-2, then the boys battled to a 1-1 tie.
In the girls game, Christina Manchester of East Valley scored a pair of goals in the first 5 minutes before the GSL rallied. Katrina Morton of Mead and Dani Thorn of Gonzaga Prep scored to tie the game before Kelli Leaf of Mead converted on a corner kick for the winning goal 10 seconds before halftime.
Josh Melcher of University gave the GSL boys a 1-0 lead late in the first half before Tony Pass of East Valley got the equalizer midway through the second half.
Shadow 4, Reds 0
First half - 1, Spokane, Marks (Berto), 6:00. 2, Spokane, Martinson (unassisted), 33:00. Second half - 3, Spokane, Berto (J.Rose), 76:00. 4, Spokane, J.Rose (Berto), 82:00.
Shots on goal - Yakima 15, Spokane 7. Saves - Yakima, Collins 1, Freisz 0; Spokane, Mullen 3.
Attn. - 2,011.
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