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Splash Takes 2 Steps Back in Overtime Loss to Pride

Indoor soccer: Despite recent success, Anaheim falls, 6-5, to Portland, which is below .500.

September 06, 1997|MARTIN HENDERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — After all of its improvement over the last month, the four- and five-game winning streaks, the recent road success and the apparent synchronization of talent, the Splash showed every indication it could win the Western Division title.

Instead, perhaps the Continental Indoor Soccer League's most baffling team looks as if it's on the ropes again.

The Splash lost to Portland, 6-5, in overtime on Friday in front of an announced crowd of 5,898 at the Pond. The loss drops the Splash (12-10) into third place, four games behind first-place Seattle (16-6) and a half-game behind Sacramento (12-9) with six games to play.

After winning seven of its previous eight games, the Splash has lost its last two--both in overtime--to teams with losing records. Friday's loss also stopped the Splash's seven-game home winning streak.

"As far as winning the Western Division [title] goes, that's not within reach anymore," said Bernie Lilavois, who called the game his worst as a Splash player. The league's second-leading shooter, he went zero for five.

"Our goal is to get momentum back going into the playoffs, and you can't do that when you lose to Arizona and Portland in overtime in the last 10 games."

The Splash held a 46-18 shot advantage over fourth-place Portland (10-14). In fact, Portland went the entire second and third quarters with only two shots on goal--and scored on both.

Those goals, by Danny Packer 11 minutes 36 seconds into the second quarter and Kevin Legg 2:23 into the third, gave Portland a 5-3 lead.

Legg (29 goals, 19 assists), starting in place of the Pride's leading scorer, Jeff Betts--who had the night off after playing in Thursday's loss to Monterrey--scored his first goal less than two minutes after Rich Ryerson had cut the Splash deficit to one, 4-3.

Legg also had the game-winning goal, hurtling between defenders Thor Lee, John O'Brien and Doug Neely, to put away the game-winner from 20 feet past a diving Ruben Fernandez.

"The two games we've lost, [Arizona] was a shootout and [Portland] was in overtime," said captain Doug Neely, who took responsibility for the last goal. "It's going to be a big one [tonight], a must-win game. We have to get back on track."

The Splash host to Monterrey tonight, the first-place team in the Eastern Division.

The Splash played its third consecutive overtime game and fifth in its last nine games.

After falling behind, 3-0, the Splash got goals by Paul Agyeman and Danny Barber to cut the deficit to 4-2 at halftime. Ryerson made it 4-3, and goals by Barber (his 20th of the season, and 100th of his career) and Brian Irvin at 4:32 of the fourth quarter tied the score at 5-5.

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