Win or lose, the Lazers were determined Sunday that there would be no repeat of Friday night’s debacle.
That was when they were swept aside by the defending Major Indoor Soccer League champion Blast, 12-3, at Baltimore.
On Sunday, they again were beaten, but this time it was only by the odd goal in nine. Still, the Lazers’ 5-4 loss at the Forum was enough to knock them out of the MISL playoffs and end their third season.
The difference was in the third period, when Baltimore took control, scoring four goals. Until then, the Lazer defense had played exceptionally well.
“The third period killed us,” said Lazer goalie Tim Harris. “Defensively, we had quite a letdown. Not only on my part, but everyone’s. Any time you take four goals, something is wrong.”
It is something the Lazers will have a chance to look back on for a while. The loss, before a crowd of 4,673, meant that the Lazers had been swept by the Blast in the best-of-five series.
They lost to the Eastern Division champions, 4-3, in the opener, were overwhelmed in Game 2, then returned to make a game of Sunday’s match.
In fact, the Lazers led at halftime, 2-1, on goals by Poli Garcia and Batata, who also had two assists. The Lazers would score again and would tie the game, but they would never be ahead--Blast captain Dave MacWilliams would see to that.
MacWilliams, the top American-born scorer in the league last season, scored a hat trick to give him five goals in the series. The first, unassisted from 15 feet out, gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead in the first period, but the others would hurt the Lazers more.
He tied the game, 2-2, just 47 seconds into the second half, and the Baltimore run was on. Richard Chinapoo made it 3-2 and, after Willie Molano took a great back-pass from Batata to tie it for the Lazers, Heinz Wirtz and MacWilliams gave the Blast a 5-3 lead heading into the final period.
Lazer Coach Peter Wall considered pulling Harris for an extra attacker when, with 6:47 remaining, the Lazers had a two-minute power play. Harris was kept in the nets until 4:30 was left, and it turned out that the Lazers, while keeping the ball in the Baltimore end, couldn’t score for more than three minutes.
Juan Cardenas’ rebound of a Stuart Lee shot with 1:24 remaining brought them within one, but the Lazers could manage only one shot on goal in the final minute.
Baltimore Coach Kenny Cooper wasn’t taking any chances. He pulled his starting goalie, Jim May, in favor of the more experienced Scott Manning, who went into the game with 13 straight wins. May dislocated the middle finger in his left hand early in the third period, but Cooper said the move had little to do with the injury.