Cougars at Ironmen Preview
Father time will not be on the California Cougars side this morning as they face the expansion New Jersey Ironmen in a "School Day" game starting at 8:00 a.m. Thousands of elementary students will fill the Prudential Center to watch the third match of the season between the Ironmen (10-10) and the Cougars (8-11). New Jersey has lost five straight games since defeating the Cougars 17-14 back on January 19 in Newark.
The Stockton based Cougars are coming off their thrilling 9-8 win over the Chicago Storm last Friday night in a match seen live on Fox Soccer Channel at Stockton Arena. Today's morning match with New Jersey will also air as part of the Major Indoor Soccer League's Fox Soccer Channel game of the week, however, it will be tape delayed and air tomorrow night at 5:00 p.m. PST.
The Ironmen have lost a season high five straight games, but are no means an easy match for the Cougars. At 10-10, the Ironmen are currently four games out of first place and hold the fifth spot in the playoff race. The top six MISL teams make the postseason tournament. The Ironmen are led by Dan Antoniuk's 56 points on 25 goals and six assists in 19 games played. They are tied with the Baltimore Blast for the third highest points scored average per game played at 11.6. New Jersey's defense, led by former United States World Cup goalkeeper Tony Meola, allows an average of 12.7 points per game.
The Cougars are very similar to the Ironmen in scoring numbers this season. California has averaged 11.4 points scored and 13.3 points allowed in 19 games. California's defense is anchored by four time MISL goalkeeper of the week award winner, Sanaldo. He saved 20 of 24 shots faced in the win victory over Chicago last week. The Brazilian also received 10 team blocks by his defense in the win. Evan McNeley led the Cougars with four blocks in Friday's match.
California has been slowed this season by several key injuries to many of their regular players. Nelson Santana, Naldo and Chris Handsor all returned from injury to the playing field in the game against Chicago. Santana was a crucial piece to the 9-8 victory as he finished the game with a goal and an assist for three total points. Friday's win snapped a seven game losing streak for the often injured Cougars.
California is still without Brian Farber, Eduardo Velez and Vicente Figueroa. All three players have suffered tears to different ligaments in their knees during games played earlier this season.
The Cougars leading goal scorer, forward Enrique Tovar, will not play in today's game because of red card he received at the end of the Chicago match. Tovar was penalized for throwing a punch at former teammate John Ball, after Ball connected with an elbow to Tovar's face during the post game scuffle.
The Cougars are currently 5.5 games back of first place and the match against New Jersey is the first of four straight games against playoff hopeful teams. The Cougars are currently tied for the seventh spot in the league with the Philadelphia KiXX (10-13). The KiXX host the Cougars at the historic Wachovia Spectrum on Saturday night starting at 4:05 p.m. PST. The Cougars return home to Stockton on Sunday afternoon, before returning to the road for two games against the Detroit Ignition and Milwaukee Wave. The Cougars return to Stockton Arena play on March 8 against New Jersey.
Today's game is available to listen via web cast at www.californiacougars.net.
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Major Indoor Soccer League 2 Stories from February 20, 2008
- Cougars at Ironmen Preview - California Cougars
- Ignition Weekly - Detroit Ignition
- Wave Weekly - Milwaukee Wave
- Online registration now available for 2008 KiXX Summer Kamps - Philadelphia KiXX
- California Cougars Weekly Report - California Cougars
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