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La Raza slips past Cougars 13-10 in Monterrey, Mexico

March 14, 2008 - Major Indoor Soccer League 2 (MISL 2) - California Cougars News Release

Monterrey, N.L. - Mar. 13, 2008 - The California Cougars took just 13 players to Arena Monterrey in Mexico for a Thursday night match against La Raza de Monterrey. The shorthanded Cougars squad battled in the match for all four quarters, but despite the impressive effort, the team was defeated 13-10 to fall to 3.5 games behind the New Jersey Ironmen for the sixth and final playoff spot in the Major Indoor Soccer League playoff chase. The Cougars (9-16) have five games remaining in their season and return to action Sunday against the Baltimore Blast at 6:15 p.m. inside Stockton Arena.

The Cougars were without the services of forward and head coach Bernie Lilavois, midfielder Majell Aterado and newly signed rookies Garth Archibald and Dalitso Muluzi. Despite their limited roster, the Cougars out shot La Raza 45-42 in the match and limited the league's top offensive team to just one goal in the first half of play. Ryan Hall and acting player/coach Antonio Sutton led the Cougars with five blocks each in the match. Semir Mesanovic led the Cougars with eight shots on goal. Midfielder Brian Farber took seven shots in his first full game back after a knee injury.

The match was scoreless until La Raza scored a three-point goal during a power play with just 10 seconds remaining in the first quarter. The Cougars would answer in the second quarter after a two-point goal by midfielder Nelson Santana. Santana was the guilty Cougars player that was called for the blue card penalty that set up Genoni Martinez's first goal of the match in the closing seconds for of the first. The Cougars trailed 3-2 by the end of the second quarter.

The Cougars played brilliantly in the first half; they out shot Monterrey 24-19 in the first two quarters. But, California lost momentum in the third despite scoring the first goal of the second half. Enrique "Qeeks" Tovar gave the Cougars their first and only lead of the match in the third with his team leading 55th point of the season. Tovar finished the match with three goals, he now has 59 points in this third season as a Cougars player. The Cougars out shot La Raza 13-10 in the third, but were out scored 7-2. Monterrey took a 10-4 to the fourth quarter and out shot the Cougars 13-8 in the fourth en route to the 13-10 victory.

Franck Mbemba had three points in the match, including an unassisted goal that started a late Cougars rally in the final quarter. Martinez would hit one more three in the match, which counted for the game winning goal at the 9:24 mark of the fourth. Sanaldo made 14 saves versus 19 shots faced in the loss.

La Raza converted two of three power play chances. They entered the match with a league leading 56% conversion rate in penalty situations. The Cougars did not receive a power play chance in the loss. The Cougars committed 20 fouls, La Raza was charged with 12.

The Cougars next opponent is the playoff bound Baltimore Blast. Baltimore clinched a post-season playoff berth with the California loss.

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