The reigning Evergreen Premier League champion Spokane Shadow are following in last year's footsteps and are in the midst of an unbeaten run of results after a slow start. With a 4-1 victory Saturday evening at Spokane Falls CC, the Shadow moved to 5-1-2 on the season and are now 4-0-1 in their last five.
Four different players scored on the night for the hosts, including Karl Muelheims, who netted for the third consecutive game.
The Shadow had several early chances to take the lead in their first meeting with the Hammers this season, but it was the visitors taking advantage of a free kick on the right flank that broke the stalemate. Bellingham star Tyler Bjork delivered a perfect ball into the center of the area where Carlos Badillo rose and nodded it past goalkeeper Tony Watters for the opener in the 33rd minute.
Muelheims, though, came through with the key equalizer four minutes before the intermission. Chance Bukoski put Muelheims on a run from outside the box toward goal. He charged in up the right side and fired from about 15 yards, putting his shot past a defender and goalkeeper Avery Miller en route to the back of the net. It was his fourth goal of the year, and the third consecutive game he has scored the team's first goal of the match. Bukoski has set up the last three by Muelheims.
“He is doing a good job for us right now,” said Shadow head coach Chad Brown of Muelheims. “About halfway through we start - as any team does - to find a little rhythm and what flows with the team.”
In the 56th minute Bukoski would get a goal himself. His second of the season came courtesy of some hard work in the corner from Adam Talley who beat a defender before serving it in to the Hawaiian for the go-ahead goal.
“Adam went to the corner and did some hard work running there. He beat his defender by a step or two and just whipped the ball in. Fortunately I was the guy to head it in.,” said Bukoski of the goal. “The main concern is to get a W for the team and perform well as an individual and also in a team perspective... do my job and make everybody happy, especially Chad.”
The Shadow never looked back and took firm control of the contest. Three minutes later a deflected ball came to midfielder Halvor Mikkelsen, who ripped a shot from just outside the area that pushed the lead to two.
“The guys were confident they were in the mix and weren't scared by any means of what was going on,” Brown said. We talked a lot about putting 90 minutes together. I think we put 60-70 minutes together. In the second half we did a good job of just coming out, they made some adjustments on their own and wanted to press a little higher. Some fresh legs, I think, helped with that and the guys did a good job.”
In the 72nd minute Jesse Retan capped the scoring to give the Shadow a commanding lead. The play started with a great long ball out of the back from Spencer Wolfe up to fellow defender Matt Beaulaurier up the left side. Beaulaurier delivered a low, square ball across the top of the area that Retan ran onto and one-timed just inside the right post.
“That's great. Spreading the love,” Brown said in reaction to four different scorers. “You lose Mike Ramos, who scores 11, and a couple guys with five or six. Coming into this season that was one of the questions I had. Again, to spread the love and have guys that get on the board is great. Everybody is hungry to get that, and we are probably doing more attacking stuff than I normally do, but the guys have scored eight goals in two games is good. We've given up a few too many than I'd like, but eight goals in two games is good for sure.”
Bellingham nearly added a second with three minutes left in the half, but Brendan Quilici's long-range effort from just outside the area toward the lower left corner of the goal was nicely tipped wide on a diving save from Jeff Srock, who played in goal for the second half of the match for Spokane.
Coming Up – Road Trip – June 27 & 28
The club embarks on a tough trip next week with a pair of road matches. First, they travel to Vancouver to face the current league-leaders Saturday, June 27 at 7:00 pm. Then on the way back home to Spokane the team will stop in Yakima to face the Hoppers at 6:00 Sunday.
Bellingham United 1 :: 4 Spokane Shadow
BEL: Carlos Badillo (Tyler Bjork) 33
SPO: Karl Muelheims (Chance Bukoski) 41
SPO: Chance Bukoski (Adam Talley) 56
SPO: Halvor Mikkelsen 59
SPO: Jesse Retan (Matt Beaulaurier) 72
BEL: Ryan Morrisey (caution) 12
Other EPLWA Results
Olympic Force 2 :: 3 South Sound
Seattle Stars @ Vancouver Victory
Wenatchee FC @ Yakima United