Artesians Take Defending Champs to the Brink in 6-5 Loss

Josh Dube | Photo: Sonja Purtteman

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Oly Town Artesians took the undefeated defending champion Tacoma Stars Reserves to the brink on Saturday night, but their upset bid was held off in the last seconds in a 6-5 loss at The Pavilion at Evergreen. The Stars Reserves never trailed in the game but also never held more than a two goal lead and they gave up a season high five goals to the Artesians before extending their winning streak to 17 games.

The two teams started out strong in the first quarter, but Oly’s starting goalkeeper, JJ Olson, took a shot straight to the cheek and had to be removed from the game after five minutes of play. The experienced Stars Reserves managed to sneak three goals past backup Hunter Bowman, who made just his second appearance as an indoor keeper, and took a 3-1 lead after the first 15 minutes of play.

Olson returned to goal for the second quarter and Collin Tate got the Artesians to within one, 3-2, with a power play goal. But a long clearance that snuck out of bounds led to a free kick from the top of the circle that JJ Schmeck buried with 22 seconds left in the quarter to give Tacoma a 4-2 lead at the half.

Josh Dube made it a one goal game again, 4-3, early in the third quarter but the two defenses and two goalkeepers, Olson and Stars Reserves keeper Alek Greenleaf, played fantastic for the rest of the third quarter and well into the fourth quarter until Tacoma’s Adrian Correa made it 5-3 with 4:27 left to play. Manny Nicasio answered just 18 seconds later and got Oly to within one once again. But with the Artesians pressing to get the equalizer, a turnover led to what proved to be the game winner by Nate Ford with 2:46 left.

Oly brought on a sixth attacker late and Mitch Balmer’s goal with 24 seconds made it 6-5. Oly peppered Greenleaf with a series of shots in the final seconds but couldn’t get the equalizer and the young squad dropped a hard fought decision to a Reserves team full of players either currently signed to professional contracts with the Tacoma Stars or to former professionals, 6-5.

The loss dropped the much improved Artesians to a hard luck 2-3-0 after the Western Indoor Soccer League’s first half. They will play three of their final five games at home including the second half opener on Saturday, January 11th against the Oly-Pen Force. First kick for the first game of 2020 at The Pavilion is set for 6:35.

Tacoma, meanwhile, improved to 5-0-0 and they have not lost since they fell in the 2017-2018 championship game to Bellingham United.

Tacoma Stars Reserves goals: Diego Aceves, Adrian Correa, Nate Ford, Mark Lee, Douglas Lima, JJ Schmeck
Oly Town Artesians goals: Mitch Balmer, Josh Dube, Manny Nicasio, Collin Tate, Esau Vazquez