Cougars win 18-8 over Orlando
Stockton, CA - Mar. 30, 2008 - The California Cougars (10-19) defeated the expansion Orlando Sharks (3-26) by a final of 18-8 at Stockton Arena in the final meeting between the young franchises. The Cougars evened their season series at two games apiece with the win in front of 4,691 in their home building. California evened their franchise best mark of 10 wins in a season with the victory.
"You know, you can look to the two Orlando losses as why we're not in the playoff picture," admitted Cougars head coach Bernie Lilavois before the match. He spoke in reference to the Cougars previous losses to Orlando on both January 18th and 27th. The January 18 loss dropped the Cougars to an even 7-7 record; the loss marked the first time the Cougars were at the five hundred mark since being 3-3 on November 30, 2007. California never recovered and went on to lose four more before beating Chicago on February 15, 2008. The second loss to Orlando extended that same losing streak, a losing streak that would extend to seven straight games.
The Cougars wanted desperately to find the win column in Sunday's match in Stockton. The team was in the midst of a four game losing streak. Their last win came over the New Jersey Ironmen at Stockton Arena on March 8, 2008, a final of 7-6.
The Cougars used 37 shots on goal in their victory over last place Orlando. The Sharks took 31 shots, including 19 that reached Sanaldo as he tended the Cougars' goal. Sanaldo was brilliant again as he saved 15 of the 19 faced. Seven of his 15 saves came during a second quarter that saw 11 Orlando shots on goal. Orlando goalkeeper Paul Nagy saved 19 of the 25 he faced in the loss.
The Cougars blanked the Sharks for the entire first half and led 10 nil at the midway point. Assistant Coach Antonio Sutton had the first goal of the match at the 1:05 mark of the first quarter. His goal was assisted by Enrique "Qeeks" Tovar. Tovar finished the night with four points, including a late three point goal. Tovar is the Cougars' leading scorer at 69 points scored this season. Qeeks also passed the 150 point mark of his three year career in the match. The goal came during the power play against former California defender Matt Caution. Caution was called for charging when he hit coach Lilavois from behind at the beginning of the contest. California finished at two of five in power play conversions.
The Cougars second goal came off the foot of midfielder Franck Mbemba at the 14:21 mark of the first. Mbemba's goal was assisted by rookie Majell Aterado. Aterado also had four points in the match. He, like Qeeks, nailed a three point power play goal in the fourth quarter. Aterado is tied with Semir Mesanovic atop the Cougars roster with four three point goals this season. Mbemba led the Cougars with five points in the win. Mbemba has connected for four goals over his last two matches.
California led 6-0 at the end of the first quarter after Sutton's second goal of the first half. Sutton's goal was a gorgeous header knocked off a restart pass by Lilavois. Coach Lilavois simply flicked the ball in above the defense to a leaping Sutton at the back post. Sutton's four point night puts him at 245 points in his professional indoor career. Coach Lilavois runs his career point total to 909.
Mesanovic made it 8-0 in the second quarter at the 10:43 mark. Mesanovic has connected with two goals in back-to-back games. The score then ran to 10-0 when Mbemba connected on his second goal.
Orlando scored three goals in the second half, including two unanswered goals in the third. Damien Pottinger and Jorge Valle both beat Sanaldo to the goal to cut the California lead to 10-4 at the end of the third.
Aterado then scored his first goal of the night during another Cougars' power play chance. Aterado's goal was a three point rocket through the hands of Nagy. "It's nice to contribute" said Aterado of his three point goal. "It felt good to get that shot to finally go in." Aterado took a team high six shots on goal in the match. "I've learned a lot with how to play this game, I'm very fortunate to have been given this opportunity with the team."
Rookie Aaron Bonser was the next Cougars player to score in the fourth quarter. His team led 13-6 until he notched his second professional goal. Bonser played for Syracuse University and for the Premiere Arena Soccer League's CNY United before coming to the Cougars. He was recently moved out of the Cougars' defensive end to the midfield after showing impressive ball handling abilities. "The move didn't bother me at all," said Bonser. "I'm a defender first, but I like to think of myself as being versatile and was up to the task to take on the midfield. Scoring always feels great, but that goal felt awesome!" His goal was assisted Brian Farber on a play started by Lilavois in the Cougars' attacking zone.
Tovar put on the finishing touch with his third three point goal of the season as the Sharks left coach Jake Dancy in as the sixth attacker.
California was charged for 24 fouls in the match. Orlando was caught with just 12 by the officials. Six Orlando players were charged with severe penalties in the loss. Only Evan McNeley and Sutton were charged for lengthy penalties in the win.
The Cougars finish their season at home against the Philadelphia Kixx on Saturday, April 5th at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are available by calling (209) 373-1550, or by visiting www.californiacougars.net. California will hand out free CHP Water Bottles before the match.
About the California Cougars: The California Cougars are a member of the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL). The MISL is a single-entity organization that features a coast to coast presence across North America including soccer talent representing players from 31 different countries. The Cougars made their competitive debut in November of 2005, after being announced on February 28, 2004. The team makes its home at the state-of-the-art Stockton Arena, in Stockton, California. The Stockton Arena opened in December 2005, and is an integral part of the cities developing waterfront district. For additional information please contact Greg Young, Director of Media Relations and Broadcasting, by phone: 209-373-1559, or by email: email@example.com. You can also visit the Cougars' official website at http://www.californiacougars.net.
About The MISL:
The Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) was launched in August of 2001 as a six-team single-entity professional indoor soccer circuit. The MISL is comprised of a group of investors who hold ownership shares in the League, participate in a management committee, and serve as MISL team operators. The MISL League Office is located within the greater New York City metropolitan area in Westport, CT, and is managed by the League's Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, Steve Ryan. The Major Indoor Soccer League represents the major league of professional indoor soccer, featuring the finest indoor soccer players from 32 countries around the world. The nine MISL clubs competing in the 2007-08 season are the Baltimore Blast, California Cougars, Chicago Storm, 2007 championship finalist Detroit Ignition, Milwaukee Wave, and the defending MISL Champion Philadelphia KiXX, with the addition of three expansion clubs, Monterrey La Raza, New Jersey Ironmen, and the Orlando Sharks. The MISL represents the major league of professional indoor soccer, featuring the finest indoor soccer players from around the world. The 2006-07 MISL season featured six teams with the debut of the Detroit Ignition. The MISL Monterrey club, the New Jersey Ironmen, and the Orlando Sharks are set to join the competition for the 2007-08 season. The MISL is dedicated to providing its fans with outstanding entertainment at affordable prices, offering sports entertainment for a fraction of the cost associated with other major league sporting events.
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