From Canada Kicks:

Lynx Find A Way
Shootout win for Lynx gets season underway.
by David Bailey
The stadium scoreboard at Kitchener's Centennial Stadium didn't work, the lighting wasn't turned on, there were no telephone lines in the press box, 105 minutes of soccer were played without a single goal, the match was being played at the same time the Leafs were defeating Philadelphia and at the same time CTV Sportsnet was telecasting the Northern Ireland - Canada match.  Omens perhaps?

Fortunately for the Lynx, the only thing that actually went more or less right was the final result - a 1 nil victory over the 1998 league finalists Minnesota Thunder in front of a crowd generously announced as 1183.

The Thunder, listless after their previous nights 1 nil victory over league champions Rochester Raging Rhinos, were capable of little fight. The Lynx would have the only three good goal scoring opportunities of the first 90 minutes.  Marco Reda would redirect an Edgar Bartolomeu cross just wide of an open net in the 14th minute, former St. Catharines Roma Wolves striker Carlo Arghittu curled a long shot just over the bar in the 38th, and Gaucho forced Thunder keeper John Swallen to make his only tough save of the match when he parried a low hard free kick onto the goal post in the 89th minute.

The sudden death overtime was equally uneventful until the 104th minute when after a goal mouth scramble, referee David Scofield awarded the Lynx a penalty when a shot was handled off the goal line by a defender. Ricardo Munguia, on loan from Vera Cruz of the Mexican League, prompty blasted it off the cross bar and out of play.  Not the best of debuts for the young Mexican. 

The saving grace of this tedious match was the shootout.  The artificial tie-breaker introduced by the North American Soccer League in the 1970's would be tied after nine rounds with the clubs drawn at four goals each.  It was goaltender Jim Larkin that made the key save for the Lynx when he stopped Jim Coughlin in round ten followed by Kosovar Albanian import Tony Precci clinching the game for Toronto with a shot that beat Swallen low to the right.

Unfortunately for the Lynx, the overtime miss by Munguia would cost them two points in the standings under the new and unusual A-League points system.  A win in regulation or overtime is worth four points while a win via the shootout is worth only two.  Minnesota did not leave empty handed as clubs receive one point for a shootout loss.  Additionally, while not a factor in this match, teams receive a bonus point for scoring more than three goals in a game.  Thankfully, teams receive no points for regulation or overtime losses although they are still eligible for the bonus point.

Notes:  Chris Pozniak, the only amateur on the 1999 Lynx, played a strong match with flashes of ball skill and speed .......... new Lynx Carlo Arhittu was a big factor in St. Catharines Roma Wolves defeating Toronto Olympians in the CPSL playoff final last fall .......... Brazilians Edu and Jefferson were not available to the Lynx last night, Jefferson being injured and Edu awaiting the approval of his release from his former club .......... keeper Jim Larkin and defender Marco Reda have been invited to attend Canada's national Team training camp for North American players taking place in Toronto from May 10 to May 12 ........... while the Thunder's John Coughlin may have been the goat in the shootout, he was the hero of Minnesota's cup final rematch vs. Rochester when he scored the decisive 62nd minute goal giving the Thunder a 1 nil victory over the defending A-League champions .......... the Lynx now hit the road before playing their Varsity Stadium home opener on Sunday May 30th at 6pm vs. Connecticut Wolves, one of only five teams to have records worse than the Lynx in 1998 .......... the presence of a Carribean steel drum band was a welcome change from the eardrum piercing piped in music normally heard at Varsity Stadium - bring them back!

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