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Cougars defeated by Ironmen 16-8 at Prudential Center

February 21, 2008 - Major Indoor Soccer League 2 (MISL 2) - California Cougars News Release

Newark, NJ - An early morning east coast game for the Major Indoor Soccer League's only west coast franchise turned into a loss for the California Cougars. The Cougars (8-11) were defeated by the New Jersey Ironmen (11-10), 16-8, at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.

With the loss, California drops to six games back of first place with 10 games remaining on the regular season schedule. The Cougars are the eighth seeded team in the MISL. They are now a half game back of idle Philadelphia in the standings, the top six teams make the postseason.

The match saw a combined eight penalty situations, 31 penalty minutes and 32 fouls. The Ironmen were 1-5 in power play situations; the Cougars were 1-3. New Jersey committed 19 fouls, compared to California's 13, and received two yellow cards in their win.

A replay of the physical match can be watched on Fox Soccer Channel, Friday night starting at 5:00 p.m. PST.

The Cougars were without the services of their leading scorer, forward Enrique Tovar, because of a red card, one game suspension, given to him at the end of Friday's game against Chicago. The Cougars lost forward Naldo due to a fractured nose in the second quarter. The incident happened after Naldo tripped over the foot of Shaun David as a blue card was pulled against Naldo for an elbow to David's back.

The Cougars continue to be hampered by injuries. The initial prognosis for Naldo is a fractured nose and a possible fracture of his cheekbone below his left eye. Ryan Hall suffered a concussion during the second quarter. He returned the game, but played sporadically because of migraines during the second half. Craig Scheer play limited time because of nagging back pains. He did not play during the fourth quarter. All three players are listed as questionable for Saturday's game against Philadelphia.

The Cougars managed just one goal in the first half of play. It was scored by Lee Williams and was assisted by Evan McNeley. The Ironmen led 9-2 after the first half of play.

Dan Antoniuk had two goals and an assist in the Ironmen win. His first score counted as the first goal of the game in the first quarter. Ibrahim Kante assisted Antoniuk on both of his goals. Antoniuk, however, did not lead the Ironmen in scoring. That distinction belonged to Lazo Alavanja and his two unassisted three point goals. Both of Alavanja's scores came during a 12-0 New Jersey run between the second and third quarters. Alavanja also had the game winning goal.

Semir Mesanovic led the Cougars with a two point goal and assist. The Cougars made the final quarter a hard one for New Jersey, but their six point rally was too little too late. Pedro Lupercio, Williams and Chris Handsor all scored for the Cougars.

Ironmen goalkeeper Tony Meola saved 13 of 16 shots faced, despite leaving twice during the second half. Former Cougars goalkeeper Bayard Elfvin filled in for Meola in two separate situations, once due to injury and once due to a penalty with less than two minutes in the game. Sanaldo saved 15 of 22 shots faced. The Ironmen out shot the Cougars, 29-21 in the California loss.

The Cougars looked flat after traveling from the west coast for the early game in New Jersey. The game was done before noon on the west coast. California next plays the Philadelphia KiXX at Wachovia Spectrum on Saturday night. The game starts at 4:05 p.m. PST. They return home on March 8 to play the Ironmen for the final time in the regular season. Tickets are available by calling (209) 373-1550 or by visiting www.californiacougars.net.

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