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Zodiac Reserves Strike With No Time to Spare

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Eddie Soto and Paul McDonnell came off the bench cold--missing wide-open shots that could have tied the score. But both reserves got hot when it counted and they led the Zodiac past the New Orleans Storm, 3-2, Friday night before an announced crowd of 785 at Santa Ana Stadium.

The Zodiac (14-9, 59 points) moved past New Orleans (12-9, 56 points) into sixth place in the Western Conference of the A-League. But the victory probably wouldn’t have come without Soto and McDonnell, who came in with 30 minutes left.

Soto assisted on Steve Patterson’s goal that tied the score, 2-2, with four minutes left. A minute later, McDonnell headed a Patterson flick pass past goalkeeper Neal Andrews for the game-winner.

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“Sometimes, the easiest ones you miss,” Zodiac Coach Erik Kirsh said. “And the hardest ones you finish. That’s soccer.”

With five minutes left and the Zodiac trailing, 2-1, it appeared McDonnell and Soto were going to be the goats. In the 66th minute, McDonnell blew a wide-open header on a perfect cross from Jason Boyce. In the 76th minute, Soto missed a shot from point-blank range after getting a beautiful leave pass from Patterson.

“Eddie had just got in the game and I think he was surprised to see the open net,” Patterson said. “But he gave me a great pass. It was great to see him get another chance.”

Soto’s chance came when he found Patterson cutting across the box. Patterson took Soto’s pass and half-volleyed the ball past Andrews.

McDonnell’s opportunity came when Patterson lofted a pass in the middle of the field. McDonnell outraced Andrews and headed the ball into the lower right corner of the net.

“You have to persevere,” McDonnell said. “You can miss once, but you shouldn’t miss twice.”

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