The Spokane Shadow waited until the final 13 minutes in their game against Bellingham before delivering a slew of shots on goal.
However, they only waited 6 minutes into the game to score the winning goal, a 10-foot shot by Brett Fink from Jim Martinson.
The 1-0 advantage held up, sending the 1,025 Friday night spectators at Albi Stadium home satisfied.
“The hardest thing to do is score,” said Shadow coach Sean Bushey, reflecting on his team’s missed opportunities.
Spokane unleashed 11 shots in the match, five coming down the stretch. But team scoring leader Dave Berto missed three chances, Zane Higgins couldn’t convert on a cross shot and Ken Thompson blew an open shot.
With 3:20 left, Thompson caught Bellingham keeper Travers Enslow out of position, but failed to give the Shadow an insurance goal.
“That one looked harder to miss than to score, but those are the breaks of the game,” Bushey said.
The Shadow didn’t need an insurance goal. Bellingham never got a shot off during the final 3 minutes.
The win improved first-place Spokane to 9-1 in the USISL Premier League Northwest Division, 10-2 overall.
Bellingham fell to 4-7 in league play as well as overall.
In three meetings this season, Spokane holds a 3-0 advantage. The first two matches ended in 3-1 scores. This one was in doubt to the end.
Fink, a 1995 Couer d’Alene High School graduate, scored his third goal of the season after taking a pass from Martinson. Martinson battled shoulder to shoulder with two defenders before feeding Fink, who was coming down the middle of the penalty area.
Enslow couldn’t control the ball and Fink chipped in the shot.
“The ball popped out and I was in the right spot at the right time,” said Fink, who played at Community Colleges of Spokane last season and plans on playing at Gonzaga University this fall.
“I was hoping I wasn’t going to miss that one. I was praying. I’m very glad.”
For the next 70 minutes, the Shadow offense was silent. But Bellingham failed to take advantage. The Orcas finished with just nine shots and allowed Shadow keeper Brian Mullen three saves.
Mullen, a Gonzaga Prep graduate and current keeper at the University of San Francisco, picked up his second shutout in as many matches. He took over as the starting keeper last Saturday in a match against Yakima, which the Shadow won 4-0.
The Cascade Surge come to town tonight for a 7:05 match at Albi Stadium. Friday night, second-place Cacade lost at Yakima 2-0 to fall to 5-6 in league, 5-8 overall. Cascade handed Spokane its only league loss, 2-1 last Friday.
Bushey said Mullen, who replaced former starter Josh Fouts, “most likely” will get the start again.
“He has two shutouts, you can’t argue with that,” Bushey said. Spokane’s tenacious backline play of Stuart Rose, Stuart Saunders, Harlan Slind and Brett Houck also helped. Throughout the match, the foursome kept Spokane out of trouble and made Mullen’s job easier.
“I still really haven’t been tested,” Mullen said. ” I had three shots, but it was nothing extraordinary that I had to do. Just try to be solid and simple in the back.”
Shadow 1, Orcas 0
First half - 1, Spokane, Fink (Martinson) 6:00. Second half - None.
Shots on goal - Spokane 11, Bellingham 9. Saves - Spokane, Mullen, 4. Bellingham, Enslow, 3.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
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