Redmond, WA --- Tacoma Tide FC forward Chris Sanders scored goals in the 81st and 87th minutes to rally the Yellows to a 2:2 draw with Washington Crossfire on Monday May 23rd at Redmond High School. For the second straight match Tacoma fell behind by two goals before finishing strong. In five all-time meetings the clubs have drawn four times. Tacoma has the lone win.
Washington Crossfire took the lead in the 7th minute on an unassisted goal by Alex Klein. After surrendering nine goals without an answer in their opening two losses, the boys from Redmond notched their first goal of the season.
The Tide immediately picked up the pressure and had numerous chances to draw level before half time. The final finish never came, though Tide forward Quinton Beasley almost got an equalizer just before the break when he ended up one on one with Crossfire goalkeeper Stephen Fung. Fung made the save.
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Tacoma looked likely to score at any moment as the second half began. The Yellows attacked the Washington box almost continuously. Crossfire's defense fell back for the onslaught.
Against the run of play the home side scored in the 63rd minute. Former Tacoma Tide player Mark Conrad found himself forward and in front of goal in a rare Washington counter. Brad Keller's cross was put home past Tacoma goalkeeper Spencer Richey and the Tide were stunned to be two goals down.
Tacoma regrouped very late on. In the 81st minute Chris Sanders converted a penalty kick after referee Michael Hayford spotted the Tide's Micah Wenzel being pushed in the box on a Tacoma throw in.
In the 87th minute Tide defender Brandon Henry kept the ball alive on the left touch line and just at the last second before reaching the endline crossed a high ball into the penalty area. Chris Sanders was waiting for the ball and got there at the same time as Crossfire goalkeeper Stephen Fung. Fung missed the touch and Sanders lightly headed the ball into the Washington net. There was a moment of loud consternation from Crossfire and Fung in regards to a possible foul on Sanders, but after conferring with the assistant ref on the far sideline, Hayford let the tally stand.
Hayford would play a role in the match's final moments. Tacoma's Quinton Beasley was fouled in the penalty box as time was running out and the Tide were putting on furious pressure to win the match. In what appeared to be the clearest penalty foul of the night, the whistle didn't sound and a few moments later the match was over with a second straight 2:2 draw for the Yellows.
Despite the draw the Tide still remain the only PDL Northwest Division side with complete control over their destiny in regards to the US Open Cup berth. Tacoma must win Friday against Kitsap and again in Portland on Sunday May 29 to take the spot in the prestigious national tournament.
Tacoma hosts the rival Kitsap Pumas this Friday night May 27 at 7 PM at Stadium Bowl in their next league match. It will be the first leg of the 2011 Narrows Bridge Bell derby, started by fans back in 2009. The annual winner of the season series captures a brass bell and local bragging rights for the year.
7 Crossfire – Alex Klein (unassisted)63Crossfire – Mark Conrad (Brad Keller)81Tacoma – Chris Sanders (penalty kick)87Tacoma – Chris Sanders (Brandon Henry)
Shots:Crossfire- 13 Tacoma- 14Saves: Crossfire (Fung)-8 Tacoma (Richey)-6Fouls: Crossfire-12 Tacoma-11Cautions: Crossfire-Matt Fisher (51) Tacoma-Steve Pirotte (83)