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The streak continues, Cougars win fourth straight improve to 6-3

December 16, 2007 - Major Indoor Soccer League 2 (MISL 2) - California Cougars News Release

Stockton, CA - Dec. 15, 2007 - Semir Mesanovic's three point goal in the fourth quarter proved to be the game winner as the California Cougars win their fourth straight game, 7-4 over the visiting Baltimore Blast. California improves to 6-3, the best start in franchise history. The Blast drop to an even 5-5 after losing their fifth straight game, and their second straight to the Cougars.

Both teams played strong defense, but it was the goalkeeping that was simply amazing between the two clubs. Cougar keeper Sanaldo returned to the starting lineup and played as if he never left. The Brazilian keeper saved eight of 10 shots faced. Each save showed his true athletic ability. The 4,779 fans in attendance leaped in excitement each time their keeper made a stop. Five of Sanaldo's 10 saves came in the second quarter as the Blast opened up their offense with seven shots on goal.

Fellow Brazilian Sagu started in goal for the Blast. Sagu came in to the game with an impressive points against average of 9.80 per game. His performance was almost as impressive as Sanaldo's, but the Cougars were able to beat him three times in the game. Sagu finished with 11 saves against 14 shots faced in the loss.

The Cougars used 20 shots on goal to score three times in the win. Rookie forward Luis Pinto scored once and Mesanovic scored twice in the victory.

Pinto's goal came in the first quarter and was the first of the contest. His score was assisted by Eduardo Velez who weaved his way through the defense to feed Pinto a ball in the center of the box.

Baltimore countered with a goal in the second as Denison Cabral connected off a pass from acting team captain P.J. Wakefield.

The score remained stuck at two through the first half and midway through the third until a restart opportunity opened the door for California to score. Chris Handsor tapped the ball from the free kick mark to a wide open Mesanovic. Semir did not waste the opportunity and was able to fire his shot above the reach of Sagu. The Cougars took the 4-2 lead at the 7:59 mark in the third.

The Cougars' defense used nine blocks in the game to stifle the Baltimore offensive plan. Four of the nine blocks came from defender Matt Caution. Caution is second on the Cougars roster with 19 blocks this season, just two behind Ryan Hall (21).

Baltimore would score again in the game, but it came after Mesanovic's second goal in the contest. This time it was of the three point variety. Mesanovic fired a shot that caromed off the far post and rattled across the goal line behind Sagu. The goal proved to be the game winner as the Cougars won by three, 7-4 the final.

"It felt great," said Mesanovic. "Even the first goal I scored was off the restart. Chris Handsor just played a great ball and laid it off to me. Same thing with the second ball, I was just trying to drive it through the defenders. At the end all that counts is 7-4 and 6 and 3."

"The boys played extremely well defensively tonight," said head coach Bernie Lilavois. "We talked about them being a high scoring team so we needed to concentrate on team defense and the boys did that tonight, all of them, all five on the field at the same time. They got behind the ball and played solid defense."

The Cougars improve to the best start in franchise history at 6-3. They currently sit tied for third place in the Major Indoor Soccer league with the Detroit Ignition. The Chicago Storm lead the league with a 7-2 mark, in second place is the Milwaukee Wave at 7-3. The fourth place New Jersey Ironmen travel to Stockton Arena after the holidays on December 30. The expansion Ironmen has never faced the Cougars. Despite being one of three expansion teams added this year, the Ironmen have started their inaugural season at 5-3.

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