The Washington Diplomats ran out of miracles yesterday. They were outscored, 3-0, in a tie-breaker shootout and dropped a 3-2 decision to the Rochester Lancers before 9,924 at RFK Stadium.
The Dips, 10-6, now have played seven extra-period games. Washington is 2-1 in sudden-death overtime contests and 2-2 in games decided by the shootout.
The Dips were in trouble even before the NASL contest began. Striker Paul Cannell, who uffered a slightly sprained ankle during practice Friday, was forced to sit out the game when his ankle swelled following a cortisone shot.
Midfielder Sakib Viteskic pulled a thigh muscle Friday and also did not dress. The Dips began the game with five of their regular starters on the injured list.
Washington also was forced to play a man short for the final 27 1/2 minute of regulation and the two 7 1/2-minute overtime sessions when midfielder Rene Breevoort was ejected for kicking Lancer forward Mike Stojanovic.
Breevoort earlier had received a yellow card for delay of game and the second yellow sent him to the sidelines.
Despite all the handicaps and a second half downpour, the Dips tied the game at 2-2 on a penalty kick by Andries Maseko with 4:59 to play in regulation.
Rochester, now 6-8, was all over the struggling Dip defense most of the game. In the first overtime session, Dip goalie Bill Irwin delayed the inevitable by making two sensational saves of shots by Fred Grgurev and Stojanovic.
After an uneventful second overtime, the teams went into the shoot-out. Each team alternates five players who start with the ball at the 35-yard line. The players go one on one against the goalie, trying to score within a five-second span.
Ibriam Silva, whose carom shot defeated Washington in overtime, 1-0, in the teams' earlier meeting, was perfect on his try against Irwin. Lancer goalkeeper Shep Messing then blocked Tommy O'Hara's try. Grgurev slipped by Irwin for a goal and Dips' forward Mike Bakic had his attempt blocked by the aggressive Messing.
Jim Pollihan juked Irwin to give the Lancers a 3-0 advantage. Messing then forced Washington's Tony Crescitelli wide. The Rookie was not able to get the shot off in time and the Lancers had an insurmountable lead, and their third straight victory.
"They didn't panic when I rushed out at them," said a dejected Irwin, who finished with 10 saves, four more than Messing. "The took their time. All you can do is come out and hope for the best."
Messing the much-traveled keeper who has been excellent in shootout games, said the key to stopping shots in the shootout is "making educated guesses."
"It's like flipping a coin," Messing said. "All you do is go to a spot and stand there. Make time work against him. But you got to give Washington credit, coming back, attacking and scoring the tying goal."
Washington, according to Coach Gordon Bradley and several of his players, should not have been in the shootout in the first place.
"You can't miss chances and expect to win," said Dip defender Robert Iarusci.
"When Breevoort was kicked out, it made it tougher on us," added Don Droege, "but we had our opportunities earlier."
Dip speedsters Maseko and Ken Mokgojoa gave the Rochester defense problems in the early going. Maseko was especially effective, shuttling from them midfield to the front line. He got off five shots and missed scoring on three of them by inches.
In one flurry, the elusive South African outran two Lancer defenders to the ball and headed an attempt toward Messing. The ball hit the post and rebounded back into the middle of the box. Again Maseko beat a Rochester player to the ball but missed a 12-foot kick.
Sonny Askew put the Dips ahead, 1-0, hitting a soft chip shot over a leaping Messing at 37:13.
Washington then was done in by its own strategy. All game long, the Dip defense had used an offsides trap play to their advantage. In the first 40 minutes, the Lancers had been whistled for the infraction seven times.
Rochester got a breakaway and the Dips went to the trap again. Julio Baylon took a pass from Renato Cila all alone on the left side of the field.Several Washington players stopped, sure that another offisdes call was going to be given. But no whistle was blown and Baylon sent a crossing pass toward Stojanovic.
The Lancers's leading scorer easily booted the ball past a shocked Irwin to tie the score, 1-1, with 1:13 left before intermission.
"it was offsides," Droege said. "We saw the linesman go up with his flag and then he put it down. The ref yelled play on, but by then it was too late to get back. Maybe we used the play too much."
The Lancers went ahead, 2-1, as Silva picked off a deflected Washington pass and blasted a low liner that skipped into the right side of the net at 72:00.
The Dips began pressing, but the Lancer defense was impregnable. Except for a short Mokgojoa attempt, wWashington's offense was quiet.
Bradley even inserted three substitutes, Bakic, Carmine Marcantonio and Ane Mihailovic to provide a spark.
"At that point, we had nothing to lose," Bradley said."We took the game to them. And even with 10 men, we had our chances to win."
With time now an enemy, Washington began to rush. Mokgojoa, Crescitelli and several Rochester players were fighting for a ball in the Lancer penalty box when suddenly a hand ball was called on defender Miralem Fazlic.
"There was no hand ball whatsoever," said Lancer Coach Dragan Popovic. "Even some Washington players said here was no hand ball."
Since the infraction occurred in the box, the Dips were awarded a penalty kick. CAPTION: Picture 1, Sonny Askew, who scored Diplomats' first goal, beats Lancer defender Jim Pollihan to ball. By Lucian Perkins - The Washington Post; Picture 2, Diplomat forward Andries Maseko takes advantage of inside position to control ball despite Lancer defender Nick Mijatovic. By Lucian Perkins - The Washington Post