As the end of January approaches and with only one game left in the regular season, the Force find themselves in unfamiliar territory, not having clinched a playoff spot. The Force currently sit in 4th in the WISL standings one point behind Snohomish and one point in front of this weekend's opponent, Tacoma Narrows FC.
The challenge to them is simple, win at home to end the season and you make the playoffs. Lose and the Force will miss the playoffs for the first time in 5 seasons. Even a draw in their final game will put them through but the team has no desire to take that risk.
So the objective seems easy enough, but if the Force are going to get points this weekend they will have to do so without a lot of key players. Kevin Flavin who missed last week's game with an ankle injury and Greg Wolfe who was the White Claw Man of the Match against the Artesians will both be overseas. Victor Kelmel is in another country as well. Brodie Steigerwald has been out for 2 months with a hamstring and there's more.
The good news is, the Force will get defender Matt Eronemo back for this weekend after serving a suspension for a tough ejection 2 weeks ago. The other good news? The Force seem to play best this year when they are firing from all angles and sharing the spoils. Last week against Oly Town, the Force had 7 different goal scorers, 5 players with 2 goals each, and 8 different players collected an assist including GK Jorge Dominguez. "It's a different group this year", says GM Micah McMonagle, "It's a different mix of players than we have had in the past and they haven't all played a ton together. It's taken some time for them to learn to work together but we have seen over the past several weeks that when they are unselfish and take fewer touches individually, they have what it takes."
Statistically the Force haven't had a bad season. The goals have struggled to come from time to time but it hasn't been a product of poor play. With all that said, they will have to put all the pieces together if they want to make a playoff run back to the WISL finals and that starts with beating Tacoma Narrows this weekend.
Saturday's game should have a nice crowd considering the Force are welcoming all military with ID into the game for free and giving them a meal as well. The Pen should be buzzing on Saturday night come kickoff time and the players are already buzzing, anxious to get going. Overall, a very good sign for a team that has ridden a rollercoaster of results this season. Kickoff is set for 7:30pm and gates open at 6:30pm at Oly-Pen Sports in Pendergast Park.