The inability to put away good scoring opportunities plagued the Maryland Mania last night during its 1-0 loss to Lehigh Valley at UMBC Stadium before an announced crowd of 1,133.
Mania coach Paul Kitson attributed the new A-League team's third straight loss -- and shutout -- to lack of concentration. "Some changes will be made if players can't get the job done," he said.
Kitson was particularly upset about his attack's failure on a scramble inside the Steam's 6-yard box in the 28th minute. Mania players had at least three touches during the exchange.
Lehigh Valley, also a new franchise and playing its third straight road game, improved to 2-1, its other win coming in a shootout.
"At least we were able to play 90 minutes from a fitness standpoint, but our concentration wasn't there, and we gave up a goal similar to the one against Charleston with six minutes left in the first half," Kitson said. "We can't be thinking that the half is over."
Shane Watkins, in his second game since being obtained from the Richmond Kickers for a draft pick, scored from 6 yards for Lehigh Valley in the 40th minute off Peter Jexby's cross from the right.
Watkins hung back on the left side and got behind the defenders unmarked. He settled the cross off his chest and lined up to shoot left-footed. But he had so much time, he finished with his right.
"They probably thought I was offside," Watkins said.
Mania goalkeeper Kori Hunter, starting his first A-League game, got a hand on the shot, earning a compliment from Kitson: "I thought Kori did well, and I'm not blaming the loss on him. When a forward gets that much time, he's expected to put it through."
The Mania forced a quicker pace in the second half, pushing up and making the Steam look ragged at times, even though it forced the home team to attack down the middle.
Rookie forward Steve Knapman had the Mania's best scoring chance in the 74th minute but missed an open goal from inside the 6 after Steam goalkeeper Tom Dutra fell.
Hunter's diving save at the 18 stopped a Steam breakaway in the 87th minute.
Goals: LV--Watkins. Assists: M--Jexby. Saves: M--Hunter 4; LV--Dutra 2. Shots: M--9;LV--14. Half: LV--1-0