OT doesn’t pay off for SeaWolves in MASL de­but

Orlando Sentinel (Sunday) - - SPORTS SUNDAY - By Mike Gra­majo Or­lando Sen­tinel Cor­re­spon­dent

KIS­SIM­MEE — Play­ing in their in­au­gu­ral game of the Ma­jor Arena Soc­cer League season, the Or­lando SeaWolves couldn’t fin­ish on top af­ter a shootout.

The match was tied 4-4 at the end of reg­u­la­tion and re­mained tied in over­time be­fore the St. Louis Am­bush de­feated the SeaWolves 5-4 (2-1 via shootout) Fri­day night at the Sil­ver Spurs Arena.

“From a char­ac­ter stand­point, I’m re­ally proud of the play­ers,” SeaWolves head coach Tom Traxler said. “I’m re­ally proud of the lead­er­ship that they showed inside the group. No, it’s not the re­sult we wanted. We have some things we have to clean up as well, but we’ll get to work on that on Mon­day.”

Gordy Gur­son had a chance to tie the game for the SeaWolves dur­ing the shootout, but Am­bush goal­keeper Casey Clark stopped Gur­son’s shot to se­cure the win.

Mario Mar­cos opened the scor­ing, giv­ing the Am­bush a 1-0 lead 8:10 into the first quar­ter. Luke Boden scored the equal­izer 1:23 into the sec­ond quar­ter af­ter a ball from Gur­son hit off the board and bounced to Boden, al­low­ing him to strike from close range.

The Am­bush re­took the lead 6:11 into the sec­ond quar­ter fol­low­ing a SeaWolves turnover. Mar­cos con­nected with Antonio Man­fut, who pounced on an un­guarded goal for a 2-1 ad­van­tage. Mar­cos scored his sec­ond goal of the game and in­creased St. Louis’ lead to 11:57 into the sec­ond quar­ter.

Gur­son, who suf­fered a knock on his knee early in the sec­ond quar­ter, scored from a tight an­gle to re­duce St. Louis’ lead and bag Or­lando’s sec­ond goal of the night.

“Main pos­i­tive for take back (is when) us to we’re down 3-1, we could’ve just rolled over and (it) could’ve got­ten ugly,” Gur­son said. “We’re at home; we had the men­tal­ity that it’s our house. The crowd got be­hind us, we ended up com­ing back. [It’s] just un­for­tu­nate to lose in a shootout.”

SeaWolves goal­keeper Pio­tra Sliwa left the game 11:57 into the sec­ond quar­ter and was re­placed by Rainer Hauss. Ac­cord­ing to a SeaWolves spokesper­son, Sliwa suf­fered a ham­string in­jury.

Lewis Neal tied the game for Or­lando 2:38 into the fourth quar­ter be­fore Jer­jer Gibson gave the Am­bush the lead again mo­ments later. Or­lando’s Dy­lan Hun­delt forged an­other tie 10:43 into the fourth quar­ter.

Fol­low­ing Or­lando’s 3-2 over­time friendly win against the Brazil­ian na­tional Mini­foot­ball team ear­lier this month, Traxler said the team needed to im­prove on the power play. The SeaWolves fol­lowed suit, scor­ing three of their four goals on the power play.

“I think the move­ment of the ball was good,” Traxler said. “We got inside their di­a­mond, we got inside their block and caused them prob­lems all night long on the power play.

“Usu­ally, if you can score that many times on the power play, you walk away suc­cess­ful. Tonight we didn’t, so that’s one thing we don’t need to toy with.”

The SeaWolves host the Bal­ti­more Blast on Dec. 14 at the Sil­ver Spurs Arena at 7:35 p.m.

MIKE GRA­MAJO/COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Or­lando’s Lewis Neal, left, and Luke Boden try to reach a loose ball ahead of a St. Louis Am­bush player dur­ing Fri­day night’s game. The SeaWolves ral­lied to force over­time but even­tu­ally lost their in­au­gu­ral MASL con­test in a shootout.

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