Rain fell hard on Friday, June 1, as Eugene Metro Azul Women’s Fútbol Club (EMFC) took the pitch for their first home game of the season. The stands, home to a 620-person crowd of screaming fans of all ages, became a puddle-ridden waterway only minutes after the starting whistle was blown. But the atmosphere at South Eugene High School was jovial and spirited, with feet stomping against the metal and hordes of fans engaging in chants each time the excitement level on the pitch rose.
Azul’s opponents, Spokane Shine, held possession well in the opening 20 minutes, but as the first half went on, EMFC became increasingly comfortable and confident, allowing Tahne Apo to score the first Azul goal not only of the night, but also of the entire season-to-date, in the 37th minute of the first half.
The second half saw the true excitement of soccer brought to spirited fans dressed in blue. For a town that has no prior experience with women’s premier soccer, the last 45 minutes of the game were intense. The crowd cheered collectively as a Spokane Shine player was knocked down during a fair but tough challenge on the wing, and several near misses in the late stages of the half had the crowd on its feet, screaming for the ball to hit the back of the net. This request was answered swiftly and smoothly with nine minutes to spare as a goalkeeping error left Spokane’s posts unguarded. For Caitlyn Jobanek, the conversion was a tap-in past a lone defender to put Azul up 2-0.
Unexpectedly, Spokane began to bounce back in the closing minutes, and in stoppage time Eugene goalkeeper Lindsay Parlee put in a remarkable effort to keep her clean sheet (shared with Elise Nord) intact, aiding EMFC Azul in achieving their first victory of the season. The next game is at 7 pm Friday, June 15, at South Eugene High School versus the Portland Rain.