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Dustdevils Keep Splash From Clinching Division

August 28, 1994|MARTIN HENDERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Splash ended the Continental Indoor Soccer League's longest trip seven games and 20 days after it began with a comeback performance that nearly clinched the Western Division title.

But Tom Crane's unassisted goal with 5.6 seconds left gave Las Vegas a 9-8 victory in a physical game in front of 2,436 at the MGM Grand Garden.

The Splash, which won five of seven games on the trip, had come back from a halftime deficit of three goals.

The Dustdevils (16-9) moved to within a half-game of second-place San Diego (17-9), which lost to Washington, 9-4.

A Splash victory against Sacramento (14-11) at The Pond of Anaheim at 7:05 p.m.--or a loss at San Jose by San Diego--will give the Splash (18-7) the division title and the home advantage through the CISL semifinals.

The Splash will be without Denis Hamlett, Ralph Black and Ruben Fernandez tonight because of their part in a melee Aug. 14 against Sacramento.

"We played (terribly) in the first half. The officiating took us out of our game plan," Splash Coach George Fernandez said. "We got caught up too much in the refereeing. It cost us early; it got us frustrated.

"To come back on the road after being gone so long showed a lot of heart and character. . . . What can you say? We were 5-2 on the road. We're not happy with that, but I'll take 5-2."

Fernandez praised the play of Doug Neely (two goals), Rod Castro (goal), Hamlett (assist) and defender Shane Hickson.

Dale Ervine scored three goals against the Dustdevils and has 10 goals and six assists since he missed the first game of the trip because of an injured toe.

Raffaele Ruotolo had an assist in his record 26th consecutive game.

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