Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ambush's Title Dreams Crunched in Overtime

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ambush's Title Dreams Crunched in Overtime

Article excerpt

Cleveland fans were booing so loudly in the third quarter Wednesday night that they had to escort the NPSL commissioner out of the arena.

Hector Marinaro finally gave them something to cheer about 1 minute 31 seconds into the second 15-minute overtime.

His goal gave Cleveland a 17-15 sudden-death victory over the Ambush and the 1994 National Professional Soccer League championship. The Crunch won the best-of-five series three games to one.

Marinaro's sixth goal of the game earned Cleveland its first pro sports championship since the Browns won the National Football League title in 1964.

Though it brought joy to Cleveland, it was a stab in the heart for the Ambush, who for the second year in a row ended the season with a sudden-death loss in the playoffs. St. Louis lost to Kansas City in OT in the second round last year.

But that didn't concern the raucous Cleveland State Convocation Center crowd of 11,162, which thought its team was getting robbed in the third quarter. That's when the referees failed to call Ambush goalie Bill Cowie for picking up the ball outside his box. Cowie said he thought time had been called when he scooped up the ball for a restart.

Moments earlier, Ambush captain Kevin Hundelt had won the ball at midfield with a hard tackle that left Cleveland's Mark Thomas rolling on the turf.

The Crunch trailed 10-9 at the time and Cleveland fans took out their frustration with the referees on NPSL Commissioner Steve Paxos. They booed so loudly that embarrassed Crunch owner George Hoffman felt compelled to escort Paxos away from the crowd.

"They were booing the commissioner," Hoffman said. "He's a fine man and I didn't like that."

The referees caught it from both sides. The Ambush players felt they too were the victims of some bad calls and non-calls, particularly in overtime. The Ambush outshot Cleveland 18-3 in overtime and 61-43 for the game, but Marinaro rendered those statistics meaningless when he tapped in a short rebound shot from the left post.

"All night long, their game plan was to play the ball off the boards and crash the goal on the far side," said Cowie, who played with a broken big toe he injured in the semifinals. …

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