Despite losing their head-to-head meeting last week, Medical Lake was still able to at least keep the pressure on Lakeside for the Northeast A League soccer championship.
A two win, one loss week that included a 10-1 rout of Riverside last Tuesday, followed by a 5-2 loss to Lakeside and a 2-1 victory over Newport gives Medical Lake a 3-2 NEA record.
The Cardinals get another chance to gain ground this week with rematches at Riverside this past Tuesday and hosting Lakeside today (April 18) at 4 p.m. at Shepherd Field.
Damian Lawson scored three goals and added a pair of assists and Dallas White another three goals last Tuesday against shorthanded Riverside (0-5, 0-8). The Rams “are having a tough year, they only brought 10 guys,” Medical Lake head coach Zane Higgins said.
“We got up on them early – I think we have six goals on them in the first 25 minutes – then we started taking guys out and putting in other people,” Higgins said. The Cardinals peppered the Riverside goal with 18 shots as Ryan Spangler, Steven Velasquez, Taylor Masteller and Tony Manzo all added single goals.
While Riverside is having its problems this year, not unlike what Medical Lake has in the past, the Cardinals used the game to get some of their newer players added experience.
“Guys like (Colton) Raczykowski, we’re trying to get him more time in goal,” Higgins said. “He got some good time in there, and a couple of other guys, Cody Bowman as well.”
Medical Lake rotated Velasquez, Brendan Satcher and Raczykowski in goal and the three combined to make four saves.
Lakeside took advantage of a Medical Lake red card in the final 20 minutes of their showdown in Suncrest that helped the Eagles take command, Higgins said. “It was 2-1 (Lakeside) up to that point,” he said.
“Up until that point we were playing with them; it was a back-and-forth game,” Higgins said. “We had great chances to go up on them, we just missed a couple of chances.” White scored 11 minutes into the game to tie it at 1-1 and Masteller added a shorthanded goal at 58 minutes to close it to 4-2. Seth Hansen had a pair of assists, both off of long throw-ins, Higgins said.
Saturday in a brutally windy day in Medical Lake, White opened scoring in the 35th minute. Newport evened it at 1-1 in the 55th minute but Velasquez got the winner in the 70th minute.
“Again, we played very strong defensively,” Higgins said. Newport was limited to just five shots. “We were limiting their shots and marked up their best players and shut them down pretty well,” Higgins said.
The elements, including intermittent snow, did not affect the game, Higgins said. “The wind was blowing across the field and pushed the ball to the opposite side of the field.”
Today’s Lakeside game gives the Cardinals yet another shot – their final in the regular season – at gaining ground in the regular season. “We’re kind of facing an uphill battle trying to catch them,” Higgins said. “We can just control what we can control.”
With two weeks remaining in the regular season, the NEA playoff picture is pretty straightforward. The postseason features the league’s No. 2 vs. No. 3 meeting in a round-one game with the league champ having a bye. The winner of the first round plays the No. 1 team for seeding into regionals.
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.