Diplomat goalie Jim Brown said he would have preferred a heavier work load. But Brown wasn't complaining after Washington ended a three-game losing streak with 2-0 victory over the Toronto Blizzard in which he faced only four shots on goal.
"The hardest thing about playing a game like this one is to keep your concentration going." said Brown. "You never know when one lucky break would give them a goal."
The victory, before 5,063 at Exhibition Stadium, sustained their hopes of overtaking Montreal and moving into second place in the Eastern Division, thereby gaining an automatic playoff bid. Washington (13-14) trails Montreal by 16 points. It was the 16th loss in the last 17 games for Toronto (5-23).
Leading socorer Malcolm Waldron had the Dips' first goal off a free kick in the 29th minute, Midfielder David McGill scored the other goal in the 66th minute.
Three of the Blizzard's shots came in the final eight minutes of play; none was dangerous. In allowing four shots on goal, the Dips tied a club record, and the Blizzard tied a club record for futility.
The Blizzard controlled much of the first 10 minutes, but from then on, the Dips -- without injured Dutch star Johan Cruyff -- were in command.
The Dips had a good chance when midfilder David Bradford beat Toronto goalie Tony Chursky at the 10-minute mark, but his shot hit the post. At the post. At the 29-minute mark, defender Waldron just missed scoring on a free kick when his shot went over the Blizzard crossbar.
The Dips finally got on the scoreboard when Waldron shot through the Blizzard defenders on a free kick at 29:14.
Despite dominating the contest, the Dips weren't able to clinch the victory until 66:08, when McGill broke through the Blizzard defense and scored past a sprawled Chursky.
Washington had 16 shots at the Toronto net, forcing Chursky to make six solid saves.
"I probably never had an easier first half of soccer in my career," said Brown, who earned his sixth shutout of the season. "We haven't been playing well so we really needed to win this one.
"After losing to Dallas (3-1) Friday night, we had lost a lot of our confidence. I know I was worried of making a mistake and giving up an easy goal because we only had a 1-0 lead until late in the game.
"When you don't have a lot to do, you tend to relax. But it only takes a split second for a game to turn around."
Diplomat Coach Ken Furphy was also worried the Blizzard was going to get hot and send his team down to another defeat.
"We were up, 1-0, against Dallas and didn't allow them a shot on goal in the first half of that game and we went and lost it," said Furphy. "We've been up, 2-0, five times this year and wound up losing, 3-2, as well.
"Six weeks ago it looked like second spot in our division was safe and secure, but then it disappeared. Our defense, which had been our strongest part of our game for 12 matches, suddenly disappeared and we have been struggling. I was glad to see that things started to come back today.
After having lost to Dallas, we knew it we lost to Toronto, it would be pretty difficult from here on in for us to win a wild-card playoff spot. If they were the two worst teams in the league, then we would have to be the third-worst club.
While the Dips remain in the playoff race, the Blizzard is nearing the end of its season-long nightmare.
"I'm getting fed up trying to protect some of my players," said Blizzard Coach Dave Turner, who was elevated from assistant coach when Keith Eddy resigned earlier this season. "What can I do -- the trading deadline is long past.
"We don't have a leader. Everybody is looking for somebody else to give them a lift. This is not one of the worst seasons I've ever been involved with. It's the worst season, period."
Blizzard captain Bruce Wilson agreed. "Even if God was coaching this team, it wouldn't make any difference."