The Spokane Shadow didn’t win the soccer game they were expected to win. But they didn’t lose it, either.
At least not yet.
After a controversial ending - the teams left the Albi Stadium field Saturday night under the assumption the Shadow beat Bellingham in a shootout only to be called back to lose a continued shootout - Spokane’s championship season apparently ended with a 5-4 loss in the first round of the USISL Premier League Northwest Division tournament.
Not so fast.
Spokane protested the game and the USISL commissioner decided to replay a portion of the shootout, starting with the disputed goal.
At issue was whether officials could allow an apparent Shadow goal by Stuart Saunders that gave them a 2-1 win in the shootout, leave the field and then reverse their decision.
After the teams returned to the field, Orcas keeper Travers Enslow made a save against Joe Ascolese, Spokane’s seventh shooter, and then Kurt Swanson beat Spokane keeper Pete van de Ven to the lower-left corner for the win.
Apparently it was decided the goal never happened.
Ironically, video replays of the disputed goal seem to back the officials’ belated decision. But replays cannot be used to reverse decisions.
“That’s why I keep coaching and we keep playing, to see what happens,” said a resigned Sean Bushey, the Shadow coach. “It never ceases to amaze me what comes up. Whether or not it was a controversial goal, the thing is they made a call and walked off the field. The rules wouldn’t seem to allow (the reversal) once they walk off the field. It was a unique way to end the game.”
The shootout will resume with the sixth kickers - and it doesn’t have to be Saunders or Scot Swanson, who was foiled by van der Ven for the apparent win but it can’t be any of the first five kickers - at noon today at Albi and is free to the public.
The winner plays tonight at 6 against Yakima, which defeated Cascade 1-0 on a goal by Davidson Feital in the 36th minute.
It was a strange game from the beginning. The Shadow looked flat in falling behind 4-1, then charged back with three goals in the final 15 minutes to electrify the crowd of 1,708.
And circumstances only got stranger after the Shadow tied the game with just under 9 minutes to play.
Inside of 3 minutes to play, Spokane lost top scorer Zane Higgins with an apparent broken left leg. Higgins was tackled inside the Bellingham box in what seemed to be an obvious penalty that wasn’t called. Then 4 minutes into the 15-minute sudden-death overtime, Spokane’s Ryan Edwards received his second yellow card and was ejected from the game, forcing the Shadow to play a man down.
Even the Orcas’ goals were strange.
Bellingham took a 1-0 lead 6 minutes in when Spokane defender Chad Waibel lost the ball in the sun, leading to an easy goal from 6 yards by Jesus Fuentes. After Ryan Edwards tied it for Spokane on an assist from Higgins, Kurt Swanson collided with Spokane keeper Josh Fouts and knocked the ball free, then his brother Scot tapped it in at the goal line in the 29th minute.
In the 62nd minute, Scot Swanson hit the post and the ball ricocheted to teammate Robbie Berg, who scored. Conversely, Spokane hit the post three times and never got a generous bounce.
A minute later, Scot Swanson lofted a ball from 35 yards out that went over a surprised Fouts’ head.
“I think we came into the game so overconfident,” Saunders said. “I think we were looking ahead and when you take that attitude it’s going to hit you.”
Saunders, in those moments when he was still the hero, said he thought his shot missed, but added with a smile, “it looked good to me.”
Later, as a non-scorer, he said, “We came in with the attitude there wasn’t a chance we would lose and we could, obviously. At this point, we have.”
With just under 18 minutes to play, Chad Brown put the ball in the box and Dave Berto bulled through to beat Enslow from 6 yards.1/2 With about 10 minutes remaining, a Jeff Rose-to-Higgins-to-Berto combo inside the box led to an easy goal. A minute later, Higgins tied it from the left corner of the 6-yard line to the bottom-right corner.
In the shootout, the first four Spokane shooters failed: Tim Seeley was stopped, Berto hit the right post and Waibel and Lane Jerdal sent shots over the net. Van de Ven made three saves before Greg St. Germain scored. Then Jeff Rose beat Enslow to the right before another van de Ven save. Then Saunders’ shot touched off the controversy.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Photos (1 Color)
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: SHOOTOUT AT HIGH NOON Spokane and Bellingham will resolve their controversial playoff at noon today at Albi Stadium. Winner plays Yakima at 6 p.m.
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