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California Cougars Weekly Report

March 5, 2008 - Major Indoor Soccer League 2 (MISL 2) - California Cougars News Release

Last Game:

Wave regain first place in standings, defeat Cougars 17-8

It's not often that a match is decided in the first five minutes of the first quarter, but that was indeed the story in Milwaukee. The first place Wave (15-7) defeated the Cougars (8-15) 17-8 at U.S. Cellular Arena. An estimated 3,500 saw the Wave pour 10 first quarter points before the six minute mark against the Cougars en route to the victory. Greg Howes led the Wave with six points, including three assists and a second quarter three point goal. The Wave took over the first place spot in the Major Indoor Soccer League with the win.

The match saw 10 penalties, including one red card, four blue cards to the Cougars and five to the Wave.

Giuliano Oliviero scored the first goal of the game after breaking up a pass from Cougars defender Ryan Hall that was intended for staring goalkeeper Matt McDougall. Howes was given the assist on the opening score. The Wave continued to dominate the scoreboard by taking advantage of several California's mental mistakes. Marcelo Fontana was the next score, assisted by Howes, in the first quarter at the 2:57 mark. Just minutes later, Anthony Maher connected on a feed from Joe Di Buono that extended the Wave lead to 7-0 in the first. The Cougars hardly had an opportunity to regroup before Marcio Leite crushed a three point goal at the 5:52 mark, Fontana assisted the score. Milwaukee's 10-0 run put the Cougars in a deep hole that proved too much to come back from.

California did score in the first quarter after a goal by Enrique Tovar, the first of two in the game for "Qeeks." The goal came two minutes after Leite's three in the same period of play. The Wave used nine shots on goal in the first quarter; California used seven for their lone score.

The Cougars suited 14 players in the loss, but were without forwards Chris Handsor, Naldo and Bernie Lilavois. Both Handsor and Naldo are recovering from injuries, Lilavois received a red card at the end of Friday's contest against Detroit. He was suspended one game for tripping former Cougars midfielder Ricardinho in the 24-11 loss on Fox Soccer Channel.

California's offense was shorthanded throughout the game, but their defense was solid after the first six minutes of play. California kept the Wave to seven points for the final 54:00 of action. California's 36 shots on goal produced eight total points in the loss. Milwaukee peppered McDougall with 39 shots, which produced 17 points. McDougall saved 19 of 26 shots faced, he had seven saves in the second quarter.

Game Preview

DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 8th, 7:15 p.m. (pst)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Stockton Arena (10,000) - Stockton, California. Radio: KSTN 1420AM.

Overall Record: New Jersey 12-10, California 8-15. Home Record: New Jersey 6-5, California 4-6. Away Record: New Jersey 6-5, California 4-9. 2007-08 Series Record: New Jersey Leads 3-0. All-Time Series Record: New Jersey Leads 3-0

The Cougars and Ironmen tangle for the final time in the 2007-08 MISL regular season this Saturday night at Stockton Arena. The 7:15 p.m. game will feature the return of former Cougars midfielder Craig Scheer to the Stockton Arena turf. Scheer was part of the Cougars original squad in the 2005-06 season. He played in 20 straight games for the Cougars this season before being sidelined with a back injury after the Cougars match in New Jersey on February 2, 2008. In his 20 games played, Scheer has achieved career highs in points (27), goals (9), and three-point goals (3) this season. He has also tied a career high in assists (6).

The match also features the return of Cougars coach Bernie Lilavois to the Stockton Arena field for the first time since February 10, 2007. Lilavois retired after the Stars of Mexico exhibition match to become the Cougars full time head coach. He has since returned as a player coach because of the long list of injuries suffered by his team. His 2008 debut happened on the road in Philadelphia against the defending champion KiXX. Lilavois had an assist in the contest and has been a crucial piece to the Cougars resurgent power play offense. The Cougars have converted seven of 11 power play chances over their last three games. Their defense has limited opponents to three of 12 power play goals over the last four matches played. New Jersey has the second best power play defense in the game, and the fourth highest power play offense.

The Ironmen defense has been outstanding in the first quarter throughout this season. The Chicago Storm is the only team in the league to have allowed fewer first quarter points this season. The Ironmen defense in the first quarter has allowed 45 points in 22 games played.

The Cougars loss in Milwaukee last Sunday afternoon was highlighted by an impressive, and perhaps surprising, fourth quarter that saw them shut out the first place Wave. The Cougars allowed just seven points through the remainder of the game after allowing 10 first quarter points in the first six minutes of the contest. California's defense has allowed an atrocious 100 points in the fourth quarter this season. The team's inability to finish late in games has no doubt attributed to their record.

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