The Sting scored the lone goal in sudden death overtime and lost their season opener, 1-0 to the San Francisco Blackhawks.
Huh. Come again?"We were under pressure and scored our own goal for them," said Fred Gray, the team's director of soccer operations.
After ending regulation play in a scoreless tie, the Blackhawks came out attacking, putting a lot of pressure on the Sting. The Sting's Rich Ryerson trapped the ball on defense as Blackhawk players closed in. He passed the ball back to the goalkeeper for safekeeping, but Mark Lehnert was at an angle and was unable to reach the ball before it went into the net. Goal for the Blackhawks and end of game.
It was a bizarre ending to a strange game, Gray said. The Sting actually should have won in regulation, he believes.
Twenty-nine minutes into the first half Derek Sanderson "hit a shot that was going into the net but one of the Blackhawks, Lawrence Lozano, handballed it," Gray said. For illegal use of hands the Sting received a penalty kick. But Cesar Plasencia's boot was just wide left, leaving the contest scoreless.
The game was basically a defensive struggle. Each goalkeeper only needed to make one save. The Sting managed just nine shots while the Blackhawks had 16, most of which didn't require the services of the goalkeepers to deter them.
"We played the last 16 minutes short one man. Steve Singelmann received his second yellow card and was ejected from the game," Gray said.
"Both sides were rusty. It was the first game out. It wasn't a quality game in that sense."
The Sting were facing their manager of last year, Laurie Calloway. Calloway didn't have the four members of the U.S. National Team for Saturday's game as they had other commitments. Gray said he feels the Blackhawks are better off without them since they're only available about half the time.
The next game for the Sting is their first home game, Saturday against the Albany Capitals. Gray expects the Sting will perform better then.
"We have a good team, we'll be there at the end, that's all that counts."