” I need 11 warriors,” was the cry from Hector Vega as his Yakima United FC huddled in the away locker room at Civic Stadium on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Bellingham.
Yakima’s last visit to Bellingham was a fogetable one, losing 8-2 and setting an unwanted league record for worst defeat and most goals conceded in a single game. A record which coincidently was matched on this very same evening as the Spokane Shadow pummeled Wenatchee FC on their own pitch to the same scoreline.
At Civic Stadium on Sunday, for the first quarter of an hour, the scars of that defeat were visable as the Hoppers got off to a shaky start. There were claims for penalties and sendings off at both ends in the opening stages. Jesse Esquivel volleyed home in the 24th minute to set Yakima on their way to three points and kickoff a final twenty minutes of the first half that saw United head into the break with a 3-0 advantage. Jr Garcia converted a penalty in the 36th minute , while Hector Valdovinos scored his second in as many matches just five minutes later.
Bellingham rallied in the early stages of the second half applying pressure which, due to the heroic efforts of the Yakima back line and goalkeeper Antonio Gonzalez, was stiffled. Midway through the second half it appeard Bellingham would pull a goal back until Gonzalez snatched away a second effort that was inches from crossing the line. Newcomer , and Hoppers man of the match, Jhony Mendoza led a Yakima defense that bent but refused to break. Valdovinos failed to convert a penalty late on before, making his EPLWA debut, Carlos Gonzalez converted a lovely volley in stoppage time.
The Hoppers claimed the first clean sheet of the 2015 EPLWA season and returned home with all 3 points.