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Splash Can’t Find a Way Past Monterrey

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Splash players sat in the locker room with their elbows on their knees, more quiet than usual, before their game Saturday against two-time defending Continental Indoor Soccer League champion Monterrey.

“We know the meaning of the game tonight,” said Bernie Lilavois, never taking his eyes off the carpet. “We need to make amends for last night [a loss to Portland], to ourselves, to the fans, for the playoff spot.”

Lilavois and his solemn, focused teammates, then turned in one of their most exciting performances of the season.

Yet, they lost.

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The Splash fell, 8-7, in overtime to La Raza in front of an announced crowd of 9,032, the largest of the season at the Pond.

They crowd witnessed the Splash wipe out a three-goal fourth-quarter deficit to take a 7-6 lead, only to lose in a short-handed situation after Paul Agyeman picked up a red card for vicious misconduct in overtime.

Agyeman, whose spectacular 180-degree bicycle kick in the second quarter gave the Splash a 3-1 lead, was entangled on the turf with Monterrey’s Marco Coria (two goals, two assists). Then Agyeman kicked Coria in the groin, which gave La Raza a five-minute power-play opportunity.

Agyeman was the first player out of the locker room after the game and was not available for comment. Player/coach Dale Ervine was beside himself. He didn’t dress with the rest of the team as he usually does.

“Whatever it was, it was a selfish act--an act that won’t be tolerated,” said Ervine, whose goal and two assists tied him with Gino Deflorio for 20th on the all-time indoor scoring list with 704 points. “The bottom line is he was fouled, it’s overtime, and you don’t retaliate and let the rest of your teammates down by giving away a five-minute power play.”

Agyeman is ineligible for the next game, Friday at Arizona, per league rules. Beyond that, who knows?

The game-winner, by Genoni Martinez from 35 feet, came after the Splash had wiped out 3 minutes 38 seconds of the penalty.

The Splash has a week to think about its three-game losing streak--all in overtime--and how it wasted an intense performance against Monterrey (15-7), the first-place team in the Eastern Division.

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The Splash is 12-11, a half-game behind Sacramento (12-10) in third place in the West; they play twice in the last five games. The Splash trails Seattle by five games.

The Splash rallied from a 6-3 deficit going into the fourth quarter. Lilavois scored three of his four goals in the fourth, and Ervine added the other. Lilavois had five points. Danny Barber also scored for the Splash, which led, 3-2, at halftime before giving up five consecutive goals--four in the third quarter.


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