The starting goalkeeper wasn’t even on the roster before Friday. The finishing keeper didn’t arrive until halftime. And the guy who started the winning play was the director of operations who dressed as a fill-in for the short-handed team.
Despite this surreal scenario, the defending champion Spokane Shadow rallied in the rain and wind at McCulloch Stadium to win their USISL Premier League opener 3-2 over the Cascade Surge on Friday.
Jeff Rose, who assisted on Brett Fink’s first-half goal for an early, short-lived lead, triggered a second-half comeback from a 2-1 deficit.
Barely 5 minutes after halftime, Rose took a feed from Fink and booted home the tying goal. Matt Zlateff finished off the winner at 67:30 on a feed from Rose, who had taken a pass from Jeff Robbins. It was the first touch for Robbins, who played two years ago before going into the front office.
From then on, the Shadow turned to backup keeper Rio Three Stars, who made several key saves.
Three Stars, who didn’t travel with the team because of a student teaching commitment in Spokane, had just gone into the game at midfield when he was called on to step into the net.
Starter John Nagle had to leave for stitches midway through the period after being kicked in the head making a save. Nagle, a Seattle schoolteacher, was the regular keeper the first half of last season, but he hadn’t practiced with the team this year. He joined the team Friday to fill in.
The Shadow used everyone they dressed, including coach Sean Bushey, to beat a team that won its first two league matches last weekend.
Fink, who drilled an 8-yarder past Surge keeper Andrew Todd on a rebound off a goal post for the game’s first goal, was playing for starter Kieran Barton. Barton, a midfield mainstay, likely would have started in goal except for an ankle injury that put him on the sidelines.
Justin Rivard lit the spark in the Surge. He set up Greg Phleger, who found the open corner from 12 yards out, for the tying goal at 36:30, then put Cascade ahead 2:40 later. Rivard picked up a rebound and drilled it home with Nagle off his feet.
The Surge had two goals wiped out by offside calls, one 20 seconds into the match, the other just after Three Stars took over.
The Shadow play the Puget Sound Big Foot tonight at Interlake High School in Bellevue.
Spokane 3, Cascade 2
First half-1, Spo, Fink (Rose) 27:00. 2, Cas, Phleger (Rivard) 36:20. 3, Cas, Rivard (Jackman) 39:00. Second half-4, Spo, Rose (Fink) 49:50. 5, Spo, Zlateff (Rose) 67:30.
Shots on goal-Spokane 11, Cascade 12. Saves-Spokane Nagle 4, Three Stars 5. Cascade, Todd 6.
Subscribe to The Spokesman-Review’s sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.