Washington Premier FC came to Gordon Field to take on the Force in EPLWA action Saturday and what occurred was a fireworks display of goals a month early of Independence Day. It is said that 75% of the goals in a soccer game are scored within first or last 10 minutes of either half or within 10 minutes of a previous goal. This game would prove would do it's part to prove that theory.
There wasn't long to wait as the visitors posted their first tally less than 2 minutes into the game. A missed defensive assignment at the top of the box and the WPFC midfielder had the opening goal. Things settled down a bit as the two teams traded chances for the next 20 minutes like two prize fighters throwing jabs to measure their opponent.
In the 25th minute, the Force would equalize as Joe Sammartino would have his first major impact on the game. He took on two defenders on the right side before crossing the ball to Spencer Hokama who lined up a strike that deflected away from the top left corner and ended up going in over the wrong-footed WPFC keeper. Four minutes later, the Force would take the lead. A thundering ball played downfield by keeper Cole Weaver found JoeSam who managed to play it out in front of Mitchell Balmer. Balmer who was already at a full sprint and through the back line took 3 touches before dribbling past the keeper and calmly touching the ball into the back of the net.
After halftime, it again took WPFC less than 2 minutes to claim their second of the game and draw things level at 2-2. Again, things settled and it only seemed a matter of time before the Force would take the lead again. Numerous chances went begging before Sammartino took a ball into the right side of the box. Trying to clear some space for a cross he flipped the ball over the defender's sweeping tackle and then was brought down by the same leg. The resulting penalty was laced into the side netting and with a half hour to play, the Force again had the lead 3-2.
Just 12 minutes later, WPFC equalized to make it 3-3 and it looked like it was going to be a furious finish. The next 10 minutes the Force pounded the visitor's goal but were unable to find the final touch. Then it was WPFCs turn as they mounted their own hefty assault. The Force defense appeared to be up to the task and turned away every effort. The referee signaled for 3 additional minutes and it looked like both teams would leave with a well earned draw. The 3 minute mark came around and the Force cleared the ball away twice across midfield. It seemed it should have been over. Into the 4th minute of stoppage WPFC came on again and were awarded a corner. The WPFC forward managed to fight off a good defensive effort from the Force defenders to get the ball into the net passed a stretched Weaver.
The Force would get to kick the ball off and launch a final attack into the WPFC end before the final whistle was blown but the damage had been done. The game would end with the Force on the losing end of a 4-3 result. It was an incredibly exciting game for the neutral fan, with all the ups and downs for everyone else.
The Force will now face the toughest part of their schedule. Three away games, all in eastern Washington in 8 days. The Force will be away to expansion club Tri-Cities Alliance on Saturday, June 9th before a Saturday/Sunday double header away with Yakima and Spokane the following weekend. Thankfully, all but 1 of the remaining games for the Force are non-divisional games and division games carry half the importance of non divisional games. Time to buckle down and get some points. The next Force home game is June 23rd, at Gordon Field against Bellingham United. GET TICKETS HERE IN ADVANCE!
Goals: Hokama, Balmer, Sammartino. Assists: Sammartino (2).