Jorge Berrio scored his first goal ever in a shootout tonight to give the Tea Men a 1-0 North American Soccer League victory over the Washington Diplomats before 5,416 fans at the rain-drenched Gator Bowl.
The fourth shooter for the Teas, the Argentine defender scored on Diplomat goalkeeper Jim Brown to give Jacksonville a 3-1 lead in the best-of-five shootout.
Berrio dribbled to his right to ease the ball past the sprawled goalkeeper to decide the game, which at the end of regulation and the two 7 1/2-minute sudden-death overtime periods had been scoreless.
In the shootout, Malcolm Waldron scored for the Diplomats, but Heinz Wirtz, Trevor Franklin and Peter Baralic missed.
Berrio said he felt no real pressure as he approached the ball for his turn.
"I felt comfortable," Berrio said. "This was my first shootout of my career, but I did well in practice. That's why I was picked."
The rain, which fell throughout the first half, dampened most of the scoring opportunities in regulation play. The wet grass forced both teams out of a short, passing game and into one where long kicks and frequent falls were the rule.
The Dips were unable to mount much of an offense, taking 17 shots, only seven of which needed the attention of Tea Men goalie Arnie Mausser.
Mausser was replaced late in the second overtime period by Peter Simonini, making his first appearance in goal for Jacksonville. Under NASL rules, Simonini was required to remain in the game for the shootout.
After Waldron started the shootout with a direct goal, Simonini made a save on Wirtz's shot and forced both Franklin and Baralic to shoot high over the net.
Dips' reserve forward Paul Cannell, who replaced Washington's leading scorer Ross Jenkins in the second half, said afterward that the slick turf was advantageous to the shooters.
"The wetness makes it hard for the goalie to plant himself," Cannell said. "The shooter has the chance to move around him when he's off-balance."
The one player who seemed to be least affected by the field conditions was Tea Men forward Alan Green, last year's leading scorer of the old Washington Diplomats (25 goals).
Green was unable to evade the Dips' defenders easily enough to manage eight of the Teas' 25 shots.
Brown kept Green frustrated all night, saving four of his shots and 10 overall.