Ibraim Silva converted one of the Washington Diplomats' few mistakes into a close-range goal with 2:31 remaining in the first overtime today and the Rochester Lancers stole a 1-0 victory in a North American Soccer League game at Holleder Stadium.
The Dips, now 3-2 dominated the play. From the very onset, the only question unanswered was which Washington Player would score first.
When Rochester was force to play with 10 men after midfielder Renato Cila was ejected for kicking Washingtons's Joe Horvath at the 56:20 mark, Washington's chances looked even better.
But the Lances (2-2) played and aggressive defense, turning back one Washington surge after another before forcing overtime, much to the delight of 8,253 in the Rochester home opener.
"We just missed our chances," said Dip defender Bobby Iarusci.
Washington even controlled the first few minutes of overtime. But the Lancers, who were unable to penetrate the Washington defense at all, got the break they needed to continue their home-field hex over Washington. Rochester was awarded a direct free kick following a foul call on Washington Rochester's Mike Stojanovic then lofted a chip shot over the Dip defensive wall right to waiting teammate Pat Ercoli.
Ercoli's short try first kicked by Washington's Bobby Stokes before goalie Bill Irwin appeared to swallow up the ball. But Dips' winger Ken Mokgojoa, inserted midway in the second half to provide a lift to a lackadaisical offense, inadvertently kicked the ball away from Irwin.
The loose ball caromed right to Silva who had nothing but an open net in front of him. Silva's five-yard kick was in the back of the net before most of the players from either team knew what happened.
Unfortunately, the Washington fans watching on the television missed the goal. WTTG-TV had line trouble and lost the game. Announcer Dan Patrick said the game was lost for about "eight minutes and all but two minutes of the overtime, including the winning goal."
"I tried to clear the ball out," said a dejected Mokjogoa. "I thought the bale was a bit away from Billy and I stepped back and tried to kick it out. The ball slipped off my foot and went right to him (Silva)."
Irwin was forced to make only five saves all day and none of the shots were close to going in. He said he "managed to get one hand on the ball before someone kicked it from him."
The loss was a costly one. The Cosmos, now 4-0, nipped Fort Lauderdale, 3-2 and moved past the Dips into first place in the National Conference Eastern Divison with 35 points. The Dips shut out for the first time this season, dropped to second place with 26 points.
For the fifth straight game, Washington outshot its opponent. The Dips blasted 20 shots at Lancer goalie Shep Messing, who got his shutout with some fine saves and one very lucky assist from a goal post.
Horvath, who played for the Lancers last year, certainly did his best to knock off his former team. Midway in the first half, the slick Dipolmat midfielder sent a scorcher from the left side of the Lancer goal area. The ball nicked the near side of the post, dribbled past a diving Messing, then glanced off the other side of the post before going out of bounds.
"I knew then, it would be a long day," said Washington's Jim Steele. "They're tough to beat here but we had them. There's no team that can beat us for 90 minutes."
Steele may have a point. Both Washington losses have come in extra session. The Dips lost to the Cosmos in sudden-death shootout, 3-2, two weeks ago.
Horvath, with six shots, and Alan Green, Sakib Viteskic and Stokes, with four attempts each, usually had enough time to get their shots off against the quick Lancer Defense.
Green rifled two point-blank attempts right at Messing, who stood his ground and grabbed the balls. Viteskic beat his defender to get open and hit a floater that hit the top of the crossbar and went over the top. Horvath also had two other near misses, one just stopped by Messing near the right side of the net.
"There's no way we should lose the game," said Washington Coach Gordon Bradley. "All the first half, we did what we wanted and couldn't buy a goal. And they stick one in like that. They were never a threat to us. It was a matter of time before we score. Everyone's wondering when the goal is going to come."
The Lancer defense, sometimes overly physical, did a good job of containing the Diplomats when it counted. Washington had several breakaways but a Lancer always managed to drop back in time to stop the threat. A total of 33 fouls were called, 19 against the Dips, and two yellow cards and an ejection were handed out.
One surprise was the absence of Washington's top scorer Paul Cannell. The striker dressed but did not play. Bradley said Cannell still is not fit and has to work on his timing.
In other NASL action, Atlanta defeated Philadelphia, 4-1, California upped Edmonton 2-1, and Minnesota edged Toronto, 3-2.