New Jersey Remains in the Thick of XSL Championship Fight
Lucio won the game in overtime in dramatic fashion (Photo by rich Graessle)
Newark, N.J. (Sunday, March 22, 2009) – After 60 thrilling minutes were not enough to settle the score between the New Jersey Ironmen (8-8) and Milwaukee Wave (9-8) today at Prudential Center, the Ironmen headed to an overtime session for the third time this year with the season resting upon the result. Needing only 27 seconds to decide the winner, XSL points leader Lucio Gonzaga pounded home a three-point bomb to give New Jersey a 15-12 victory and send the hometown crowd into an uproar.
Supported by a cast of former stars from the New York Cosmos and Grassroot Soccer founder Ethan Zohn, honorary captain Werner Roth put the opening kick into motion, and a defensive battle kick started in Newark. Cuban defender Rey Martinez finally broke the scoreless tie with 2:04 remaining in the opening frame when he scored a Chile Farias ball, and the host Ironmen ended the first quarter with a 2-0 advantage.
The luck of the Irish struck at 8:44 of the second stanza as defender Evan McNeley hooked up fellow back Tim O’Neill, and a Lucio solo knock at 10:02 extended the New Jersey edge to 6-0. The Wave got on the board with 1:04 remaining in the half on a Nilson Pernambuco goal, and the Ironmen took a 6-2 lead into intermission thanks in large part to stellar play between the pipes by netminder Brett Phillips.
O’Neill notched his second tally of the afternoon at 2:56 of the third period to start the second half scoring, with Bergen Catholic graduate Randi Patterson recording the assist. Patterson then registered a score of his own to put New Jersey up by a count of 10-2 at 4:09. After Giuliano Oliviero brought Milwaukee within six points at 8:24, a Lucio to McNeley tally 18 seconds later got the points back to make it 12-4. Wave defender Troy Dusosky then closed the gap to 12-7 when he hit a three-pointer at 13:35, and the score stood as the game headed into the final 15 minutes of regulation.
In the fourth quarter, a three-point and two-point goal for Milwaukee evened this contest at 12 each, and the game was sent into a golden goal overtime. It then took only 27 seconds for Lucio to keep the Ironmen championship hopes alive.
Phillips played very well in goal for New Jersey, turning away 31 shots on the day. With the win, the Ironmen are now a ½ game back of the Wave and are awaiting the result of a Detroit ignition/Chicago Storm match-up that kicked off at 4:00 p.m. to see how close to Detroit they will end the day.
New Jersey returns to Prudential Center this Friday in hope of gaining a much-needed game on the first-place Ignition. That game is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. and possesses critical implications. Serving as honorary captain for the contest will be five-time MLS Cup champion Jeff Agoos, and tickets are available now by calling 1-800-IRONMEN.