It was the kind of game the best team knows it’s lucky to win.
Make that lucky it didn’t lose.
Sunday, the Spokane Shadow dominated the Tucson Amigos from beginning to end - and a little bit more - but only escaped with a 2-1 win in overtime.
It was a nifty little give-and-go from Zane Higgins to Dave Berto and back that allowed the Shadow to pull out the soccer game with 4 minutes left in the extra period.
“It was frustrating out there,” said Higgins, who got the ball at point-blank range and slid it past the keeper. “We had so many chances and nothing was going in. It’s very nerve-wracking. You know all it takes is a freak play and they can put it away, and all that hard work was for nothing.”
A Mother’s Day crowd of 1,013 at Albi Stadium spent most of its time groaning, when player after player slipped shots just wide or knocked headers just over the crossbar.
Spokane had about a 12-2 edge in corner kicks and about a 10-0 advantage in breakaways or near breakaways the Amigos defenders or keeper barely foiled.
The Shadow sent 24 shots at Mark Torguson in the Tucson goal, but the Amigos hardly tested Joshua Fouts in the Spokane goal, getting off nine shots.
“I don’t think I had one shot, just a couple of crosses,” said Fouts, who was credited with four saves. “The defense stepped up. When they do the job, my job is easy. Sometimes it’s hard to stay focused. I sing songs or do commentary on the game.
Fouts survived a 2-on-1 break about 11 minutes before halftime when Doug Cheney shot the ball wide.
Tucson’s only other good opportunity came with 15 minutes left in regulation and again the shot was wide.
The win makes the Shadow 3-0 in the USISL Premier League, leading the Northwest Division with nine points. Tucson, from the Southwest Division, is 2-5 overall. The Amigos lost 5-0 Saturday night in Yakima.
The Shadow could have buried Tucson the same way but kept missing shots. Torguson, who had eight saves, may have covered the goal just enough to force the Shadow to shoot wide. He only made one spectacular stop, diving to rob Andy Bruno.
That save came just minutes after Higgins finally scored. With just under 22 minutes to play, midfielder Rio Three Stars, who was at the top of the penalty area, slipped the ball to Higgins on the left, who beat Torguson with a low shot to the right corner from about 8 yards.
With the Shadow keeping the door cracked, the Amigos finally broke in. The Shadow was called for a penalty in the box, giving the Amigos a penalty kick with just over 7 minutes to play. Chris Vaughn beat Torguson to the top right corner and Spokane had a reason to be nervous.
“In sports when you have opportunity after opportunity and don’t finish your chances, that’s an opportunity for you to make a mistake or open the door for the referee to make a call,” Spokane coach Sean Bushey said. “We were in control. I’m happy with the number of chances we had, finishing will come. We missed Jeff Rose (hamstring injury).”
Making up for Rose’s loss, the Shadow got several other injured players back, including defender Harlan. This was also the first game Gonzaga University players played. The GU players included Fouts and defender Brett Houck.
Spokane resumes play against Northwest rivals Friday at Bellingham. The Cascade Surge, beaten by Spokane last weekend, comes to Albi on Saturday.
Shadow 2, Amigos 1 (OT)
First half- None. Second half- 1, Spokane, Higgins (Three Stars), 68:15. 2, Tucson, Vaughn, PK, 83:30. Overtime - 3, Higgins (Berto), 101:00.
Shots on goal-Tucson 9, Spokane 24. Saves - Torguson, Tucson, 8; Fouts, Spokane, 4. A-1,013.
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.