A depleted Force team traveled to Olympia Saturday night to take on the Oly Town Artesians in a game that the Artesians needed to win to stay eligible for the playoffs, and the Force needed to win to stay ahead of the game for a chance to host a playoff game.
With 4 players out due to illness, 4 players on the field playing with illness and a coach and GM with the same illness and bundled up like Eskimos at the Evergreen Pavilion, the challenge was obvious before things even got started. Coach Cashmore decided to start former Evergreen State College Alum Nate Salveson in goal for this game due to his familiarity with the field. If you've never been to what we affectionately call the "Circle", I will explain. The smallest field in the league by far, the field is barely longer than half the length of the field the Force play on at home at the Olympic Sports Center, and wider. These dimensions take some getting used to for field players and goal keepers alike and Nate's knowledge and experience at the Pavilion made him the correct choice for the match despite his still battling illness.
In the first quarter, it was all Oly Town. They Scored two goals and led the game at the end of the 1st quarter but got no more than that thanks largely in part to the play of Salveson who had 7 of his 16 saves posted in the quarter. When the 2nd quarter kicked off it turned into the Hernandez twin's show. Alex netted 2 goals in rapid succession before brother Leo got his first goal in a Force uniform after having been sidelined since this past summer with an ankle injury. Alex would add a 3rd to get his hat trick and the teams went into the half tied 4-4.
The two teams would trade goals in the 3rd quarter to start the final period even at 5. Oly Town did their best to spoil the party by taking the lead again before Joe Sammartino struck twice in quick fashion to pull the Force level and then take the lead with just a couple minutes to go. A timeout was taken and the message from coach Cashmore was clear, maintain possession. We attack if it's given to us but we need to kill this thing off. With a little under 2 minutes to go, Brent Ricigliano was doing just that. He took a ball into the right corner and used his body to shield off a defender. As he started to turn back towards his own goal, two more Oly Town defenders closed in. With a quick dip of the shoulder, Ricigliano spun back on the attack, beating all three defenders and took another touch towards goal drawing out a 4th defender. This left Ralston in the box by himself for an easy tap in on the final pass from Ricigliano and the Force would hold on for the 8-6 final score.
After the game the squad received huge congratulations from owner Bill Wright who made the trip down to watch the boys on the road and huge props from Coach Cash as well. "This was a huge win tonight boys, well done"!
Goals by: A Hernandez, 3; Ralston & Sammartino, 2; L Hernandez,1
Nate Salveson, 16 Saves and Cervesa Modelo Man of the Match