The Washington Diplomats, facing their second overtime game in three days, got a reprieve with 1:26 to play last night when Rochester's Nick Mijatovic headed the ball into his own goal to give the Diplomats a 4-3 North American Soccer League victory at RFK Stadium.
Mijatovic was attempting to clear the ball away from the Lancer goal when he headed it backward past astounded goalie Ratko Svilar. Paul Cannell, the closest Washington player, sank to the ground in supplication and blew kisses toward Mijatovic.
Cannell's relief was that of his entire squad, which had fought back from 3-1 to tie on substitute forward Mike Badic's goal at 85-11. Washington, coming off a 2-1 victory Thursday night in Seattle, was not looking forward to an overtime in the enervating heat and humidity of RFK.
The Lancers, however, proved to be more of a hazzard to the health of the Diplomats than the weather.
"It was a butcher shop out there," Diplomat President Steve Danzasky remarked. "The game was out of the referee's control from the start. Rochester was trying to injure people."
Washington forward Ken Mokgojoa said he was "purposely kicked in the ankle" by the back Nelson Cupello early in the game. Mokgojoa, hobbling thereafter, was replaced by Bakic 14 minutes into the second half.
Rochester the most penalized team in the league, receive three yellow cards and Lancers Julio Baylon and Ibraim Silva were ejected in the second half. The Diplomats, second is penalties, got five yellow cards including two on defender Mike Dillon that probably will cause him to miss the Aug 2 home contest against the Cosmos.
Washington drew first blood, with Cus Hidding's goal at 31:05 off a pass from Ray Graydon the only score of the first half. A penalty shot by Baylon three minutes later hit the crossbar and was cleared by Diplomat defender Tommy O Hara.
The Lancers tied 1:59 into the second half when right wing Pat Ercoli picked up a rebound and passed to Vladimir Trifunovic for an unmolested two-yard shot.
Rochester then grabbed a 3-1 lead with two goals in an eight-minute stretch. One came after the Dips' Gary Darrell tripped Trifunovic in the penalty area. Miralem Fazlic was good on the penalty kick for his first goal of the season.
With the crowd of 9.166 imploring the home team to rally. Graydon found Cannell open on a corner kick. Cannell headed the ball in from the right side to reduce the lead to 3-2. Cannell's 13th goal of the season tied his own two-year club season record.
The victory was the fourth in a row for the streaking Diplomats who have won seven of their last eight games to up their season mark to 16-10. The Lancers lost their 15th against 12 victories.