Forward Adauto Neto Leads Offense with Two Goals and an Assist
Neto and Vasic were instrumental in the win (Photo by Rich Graessle)
Plymouth, Mich. (Saturday, February 28, 2009) – If anything is clear after an overtime goal by veteran midfielder Goran Vasic lifted the New Jersey Ironmen (6-7) over the Detroit Ignition (7-5) tonight at Compuware Arena, the playoffs are officially underway in the Xtreme Soccer League. With the regular season champion taking the XSL title this season, every game counts, and it was clearly evident by both sides in this exhilarating 10-8 win by the Ironmen.
After the defense and goalkeeper of both teams gutted out inspired efforts in the beginning of this contest, the first quarter concluded with no tally on the scoreboard. Detroit midfielder Doug Rice finally broke the scoreless tie in the opening minutes of the second period, and it would be the only notch of the first half for either team. New Jersey spent much time in the opening half on the Ignition end of the field, but Detroit goalkeeper Danny Waltman and defender Josh Rife played a stellar 30 minutes to keep the Ironmen from finding the back of the net. New Jersey saw their best opportunity come in the second frame when Brazilian striker Lucio Gonzaga was able to regain control of a Waltman save in front of the Ignition goal. With the ball at his feet, Lucio struck the ball towards the open net with Waltman on the floor, but Rife was there to make a dramatic stop of the attempt. With Ironmen netminder Brett Phillips also protecting his goal very well, a rare 2-0 score accompanied the two clubs into intermission.
New Jersey got themselves on the board in this match-up at 2:54 of the third stanza on an Edison Bilbao to Lucio goal, equalizing the tally at two each. Following a pair of two pointers by the host squad, Neto brought the Ironmen within a single knock, 6-4, on an unassisted notch at 12:03.
With the intensity level drastically increasing as the two sides headed into the final 15, Neto made an unselfish dish to defender Evan McNeley at 2:41 of the fourth quarter, and the two teams became knotted up at six each. As the final minutes began to tick off the clock, McNeley returned the favor at 12:09 when Neto hammered home a blast to give New Jersey an 8-6 edge. Detroit shot caller Matt Johnson then pulled Waltman in favor of Rife as the sixth attacker, and midfielder Ryan Mack quickly finished a Mike Apple ball to equalize for his team at 13:09. Following an electric exchange in the final seconds, it was evident that it would take an overtime session to determine a winner between these two clubs for the second time this season.
As the sudden death overtime began, the Ironmen maintained control of the ball from the whistle but saw near misses and great saves by Waltman extend the contest. At the 9:16 mark, midfielder Chile Farias lobbed a ball to the left flank, and an anxious Vasic unloaded a screamer past Waltman to keep the New Jersey championship hopes very much alive.
With the win, the Ironmen increase their record to 6-7, bringing themselves within 1.5 games of Detroit and two back of the first-place Milwaukee Wave (8-5). New Jersey remains on the road for their next two matches before returning to Prudential Center on Sunday, March 22nd, to host Milwaukee. Serving as honorary captain for that game will be former Cosmos captain Werner Roth. The Ironmen return to the Rock that Friday, March 27th, to host Detroit. Playing the role of honorary captain for that match will be five-time MLS Cup Champion Jeff Agoos. Tickets start at only $10 and can be purchased today by calling 1-800-IRONMEN.