In the old fable, it was the tortoise that outlasted the hare.
But in a crucial Greater Spokane League 3A boys soccer matchup Friday afternoon at Albi Stadium, the hare, as represented by the University Titans, turned the tables, 3-0.
While Shadle Park (6-4-2, 4-2) took its time to build its attack, trying time and again to crack the U-Hi defense and stingy goalie Cojo Smith, the Titans scored off three quick opportunities, mainly coming off Smith’s right leg.
“We like to counterattack and I have to get the ball to our players’ feet,” said the senior goalkeeper, a rarity among GSL goalies, not just because he’s less than 6-foot tall, but because he does not play club soccer. “Usually, they just like me to do the big kicks when we want to get it out of our side. But if there’s a guy open, I’m just going to boot it to them.”
Smith and the Titans (6-1, 4-1) scored first in the third minute off a counter.
Smith made a save and his ensuing kick traveled to the 30-yard line and bounced once. A Shadle defender tried to head it back to goalkeeper Kenji Booey (11 saves), but their signals were crossed and the slow-moving ball squirted past Booey and skidded across the goal line.
“That was pretty cool,” Smith said. “I felt like (national team goalie) Tim Howard for a second, with his long goals.”
A couple of minutes later, leading Titans scorer Trevor Martin tried to run down a loose ball near midfield and collided with a Shadle player – and the 6-foot concrete wall that surrounds the playing surface.
The sophomore, who has four goals this season, hit his head, opened a gash and was down on the turf for about 10 minutes before being helped up the ramp. U-Hi coach Nick Funkhouser told his team afterward Martin needed stitches but there seemed to be no concussion.