Lynx vs Atlanta story in Toronto Sun...

August 31, 2002
Lynx come up empty

By MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

When a soccer team fails to score a goal in 110 minutes, it does not deserve to make the playoffs.

With their season on the line, the Toronto Lynx couldn't find a way to put a ball into the Atlanta Silverbacks net last night at Etobicoke Centennial Stadium.

The 0-0 tie in Toronto's A-League season finale, combined with the Charlotte Eagles' 3-1 win over the host Rochester Raging Rhinos last night, pushed Charlotte ahead of the Lynx into the sixth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Lynx (10-13-5) would have made the playoffs with a win over Atlanta. Toronto also would have slipped through the back door into the playoffs if Charlotte had lost or tied against Rochester.

"This is very, very disappointing," said Lynx general manager/coach Peter Pinizzotto, whose team will miss the playoffs for the second year in a row. "We were in the driver's seat. We just needed a win at home and we couldn't get it."

After the game, Lynx players barely moved. As 2,143 fans exited the stadium, forward Niki Budalic stood on the field with his hands on his hips, while fellow forward Ryan Lucas sat on the bench with his hands covering his bowed head.

"This is really bad," Lucas said. "I don't know what to say."

Knowing the Eagles were in control against Rochester, the Lynx poured it on in the final 15 minutes of regulation and the two 10-minute sudden-death overtime periods.

In the 75th minute, Budalic had a shot from in close stopped by Silverbacks goalie Jeff Cassar. Seconds later, Lynx midfielder Nikki Vignjevic fired high from the penalty area. In the final minute of sudden death, Cassar made another tough save on Budalic.

Earlier in the game, the Lynx lacked flow on offence, registering few chances in the first 60 minutes.

"We didn't come out really wanting to win," said Lucas, whose team started the season with a 1-7-1 record before rallying down the stretch. "We were really flat."

The A-League playoffs begin next weekend.

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