By Gerald Barnhart/Spokane SC Shadow
The Spokane Shadow Men’s First Team continues to find success in the NPSL, earning another four points with a 2-0 win versus PDX FC and a 0-0 draw against FCM Portland on the road this weekend to extend the team’s league-leading regular season unbeaten streak.
The team’s unbeaten regular season streak now stands at 17 games, which is tied for the longest such streak in the National Premier Soccer League with Minneapolis City. The streak includes the final two matches of 2017, the unbeaten 7-0-5 run last season and the opening three games of this year’s campaign, all of which have been shutouts. Minneapolis City’s streak started with their final game of 2017 and includes a pair of matches to start this season after going 10-0-4 last year. They are one of the three teams – out of four others – that have carried unbeaten runs into 2019. New York Cosmos B are currently at 16 games and Laredo Heat 11.
The weekend started with a 2-0 result Saturday night against PDX FC in which Jake Levine headed home a service from Mike Rojas in the 18th minute to give the Shadow the lead. A low shot from Tanner Williams to the back post off a ball from Mike Ramos gave the team its second in the 30th minute and from there Peter Byrne kept the hosts at bay with several saves. Jesse Retan also made a critical goal-line clearance off a corner as the team managed the clean sheet the rest of the way in the rain.
Williams now has two goals on the season and Ramos three assists.
The following night the team battled to a scoreless stalemate, registering a third consecutive shutout to start the campaign. The team registered five shutouts last season with only two back-to-back and only two in 2017.
Spokane had a great chance in the 11th minute when a slow build up saw the ball move from the left to the right side, and with a combination of passes and overlaps the play finished with Hakeem Rabiu putting the ball into the middle of the box for defender Bryan Maxwell. A defender, though, rushed the shot, allowing the Portland keeper to recover and make the stop. The ball was still loose and Maxwell poked it to the open net only to see a recovering defender clear it off the line.
In the second half the Shadow had another fantastic chance on a slow-building counter that Ramos collected on the left side and began a switch to the right side that eventually resulted in a shot from Mike Rojas from the top of the box that slipped narrowly wide of the left post.
Bryan Hernandez went the distance in goal for Spokane, earning the shutout despite a couple of late scares. In the 89th minute a cross from the left was nodded off the right post from close range with a bouncing loose ball headed out of danger by a defender. About a minute later a throw-in was headed off the crossbar from close range, though Hernandez’s hand was right there as well to preserve the draw had it dipped below.
Also of note from the weekend – club player Brayden Tucker became the first high school player to not only start for the team in the NPSL, but play a full 90 minutes. He did so for both games.
Photo Credit: Gerald Barnhart/Spokane SC Shadow