Lane United FC 4, Puget Sound Gunners 1
Lane United FC continued its strong start to the 2014 PDL season by beating the Puget Sound Gunners 4-1 in a comprehensive victory. The Gunners, who had finished a 2-0 loss to the Portland Timbers U-23s only 24 hours before the kickoff of the Lane United match, looked very tired from the outset and could barely manage to disrupt the home team’s patient passing rhythm for the first half. After only two minutes, Martin Lukaschik played in Khiry Shelton with an excellent through-ball, and the big forward, who spent most of the match playing a slightly deeper role at the point of attack, glided in and finished at the near post. He was then instrumental in maintaining Lane United’s dominant possession for the rest of the half, simply turning around as soon as he felt opponents closing in, holding off a challenge or two with his 6’3” frame, and recycling the ball to any one of Lane United’s three hard-working midfielders, Lukaschik, Baldo or Pancho Vizcaino.
Shelton was at the heart of Lane United’s second goal, the product of a counter-attack straight from a Puget Sound free kick on wing. As soon as the clearing header fell at Bevans’ feet, 45 yards from his own goal, it was apparent that Puget Sound had only one man back to cover the rest of the field. Shelton raced down the right channel and Bevans slipped him the ball; when Shelton tried to round the keeper, he was shepherded out too wide. Instead of attempting a low-percentage shot, he held up the ball, forcing Dodson the keeper to play out of his net. He then picked out Bevans with a low hard centering pass; and the Gonzaga striker somehow scrambled it into the net with three defenders back desperately on the line.
Puget Sound rarely got a taste of possession; their best half-chance came when their lightning-quick forward Ashkanov Apollon pounced on an attempted pass between Duran Lee and Casey Phillips, the Lane United center-halves, and raced in on the goal. For a second he was away, but Lee and the bobbling turf both conspired to dispossess him. A few minutes later came the pick of the goals; Phillips collected a Puget Sound clearance from the corner in the center circle, strode forward 10 yards and, since no one had closed him down, decided to have a go and absolutely rifled a left-footed shot into the top left corner from what must have been 35 yards.
The temperature of the match heated up unnecessarily in the second half as the referee, Cesar Tercero, swallowed his whistle on a number of apparently obvious foul calls on both teams. He then sent off Lane United’s Amer Sasivarevic in the 55th minute for what he must have determined was a case of denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity, although the attacker, Ballew was being forced wide of the goal about 35 yards out and Phillips, the center back, was tracking back behind the play when it happened. Just before the sending-off, Shelton had added Lane United’s fourth by charging down Dodson, the goalkeeper, as he tried to clear an under-hit backpass. Shelton created his own luck by throwing himself into the situation and was rewarded when the ball deflected off him straight back into the vacated net.
The pattern of the game shifted after the red card, as Lane United sat back to try and preserve the shutout and Puget Sound moved the ball around the attacking half, albeit without creating many clear-cut chances. Their goal came when their left-back, Justice Duerksen, hit an inswinging cross and no one, including the Lane United goalkeeper Lowrimore, was able to get a touch on it as it bounced in slow-motion toward the back post. There was little goalmouth action for the final 15 minutes. Bevans, who had somehow enjoyed even less protection than anyone else on the field from Tercero, almost scored by barging through two questionable challenges in a penalty-box scramble, then a few minutes later was taken off before his understandable frustration with the referee boiled over into anything punishable. The match phased out quietly, and when the final whistle eventually blew, Lane United had preserved its unbeaten start and moved to seven points, good for second place in the Northwest Division for now and their first away match, to Kitsap in seven days, looming.