Ervine’s Four Goals Help Splash Move Closer to Western Division Title
Dale Ervine matched a team high by scoring four goals Sunday to help the Splash defeat Pittsburgh, 11-6, in front of 2,816 at the Civic Arena.
It was the Splash’s fourth victory in five games on the team’s seven-game road trip and reduced the magic number to win the Continental Indoor Soccer League’s Western Division title to three. The Splash (17-6) lead second-place San Diego (16-8) by 1 1/2 games. The Splash has five games left and the Sockers have four.
Dallas (20-3) has already clinched the Eastern Division title.
“I still think we have the toughest schedule out of San Diego, Las Vegas and Sacramento,” Splash Coach George Fernandez said. “Not one of our games is going to be easy, and I think San Diego has the easiest schedule left. We play Washington (9-11), then go back-to-back with Vegas (14-9) and Sacramento (13-11) without Ralph Black and Denis Hamlett (because of suspensions), and then we play Dallas without Ralph.
“We have to hope San Diego loses more than one or two games, but we own our own destiny. If we play the way we can, we should be able to win three games.”
Ervine’s four goals matched Raffaele Ruotolo’s output against Monterrey June 24. Ervine, who also had an assist, has scored a goal in 11 of his last 13 games.
Ruotolo scored a goal and had one assist; he has an assist in a CISL-record 24 consecutive games.
The Splash jumped to a 7-0 lead 2 minutes 7 seconds into the third quarter before the Stingers (12-12) rallied to pull within 9-6 at 1:10 of the fourth. Ervine scored twice after that, giving him 31 on the year, and overtook Ruotolo (30 goals) for the team lead.
“We played the first half like a clinic,” Fernandez said. “We played crappy in the second half. It was like night and day.
“For our talent, giving up six goals is embarrassing. (Pittsburgh) didn’t even sniff the goal in the first half, and to give up six in the second is totally uncalled for.”
Doug Neely scored two goals and had one assist since moving from defender to midfield to replace the injured Armando Valdivia.
Hamlett had a goal and two assists, and Rod Castro a goal and one assist. Shane Hickson and Paul Ratcliffe also scored; Ratcliffe’s goal was short-handed and proved to be the game-winner. Paul McDonnell had an assist.
Goalkeeper Ruben Fernandez had 15 saves and improved to 2-1.