The St. Louis Storm got complacent, blew a two-goal lead and then finally woke up to beat San Diego, 5-4, in Game 3 of the Major Soccer League Western Division finals last night.
Godfrey Ingram saved the day, scoring his second goal by beating San Diego keeper Victor Nogueira with two minutes left. The Storm now trails the Sockers 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 is scheduled in St. Louis Thursday night.
Bobo Lucic, Preki and Emil Dragicevic also scored for St. Louis. San Diego, which has won three consecutive MSL championships and 23 of 24 playoff series in its history, got one goal each from Wes Wade, Branko Segota, Brian Quinn and Waad Hirmez.
Because of earlier scheduling commitments at the St. Louis Arena, the teams traveled from San Diego following Game 2 Saturday night and played without a day off. Game 5, set for Saturday night, will also be played in St. Louis.
* WRITING ON THE WALL: The Sockers are 14-0 in playoff series when they win the first two games, as they have done in this series against St. Louis.
* BIG BLOW: St. Louis lost its No. 1 goalkeeper, Zoltan Toth, for the rest of the playoffs when he broke three ribs in Game 1. Toth was diving for a 50-50 ball against San Diego midfielder Rod Castro when he got kicked in the ribs in the first quarter. Toth finished the quarter, but it was Slobo Ilijevski who finished the game.
St. Louis signed A.J. Lachowecki of the Atlanta Attack of the National Professional Soccer League to a 15-day contract.
Ilijevski, 41, is playing like an all-star. Despite the 5-4 overtime loss in Game 2 Saturday, Slobo was voted the defensive star of the game, making 28 saves on 46 shots.
* CRUNCH, CRUNCH, CRUNCH: The Cleveland Crunch is carrying on as if it's on a crusade.
The Crunch opened the series in Cleveland with a 7-2 victory, as Zoran Karic, Hector Marinaro and David Hoggan each scored twice.
In Game 2, Michael King had a hat trick to lead the way to a 7-5 victory Saturday, in front of 10,021 fans in Richfield Coliseum. It was the largest crowd of the season.
The series now continues in Kansas City, with Game 3 Wednesday. Comets coach Dave Clements hopes a change of scene will mean a change in results.
It there is to be a change, the Comets need Jan Goossens and Carl Valentine to start scoring. The Comets' aging player-assistant coach, Tony Glavin, had two goals in the Game 2, and David Doyle, Ted Eck and Doug Neely each scored once.
Goalkeeper P.J. Johns has both victories in this series. Kansas City's Jim Gorsek took Saturday's loss.
* TICKETS ON SALE: Tickets for the outdoor game between the Blast and the Maryland Bays, April 28 at UMBC, go on sale today. They are available at all Ticketron locations or by calling 481-6000. Prices are $8.50 for adults and $5.50 for youth under age 18.
Ticket holders also will be able to take part in a soccer clinic, featuring Blast and Bays players, from 4-5 p.m. The game kicks off at 5:30.