Illinois Piasa Fall to In-State Rivals Chicago Mustangs 13-1

PONTOON BEACH, IL. January 11, 2014 – The Illinois Piasa showed plenty of heart in the face of adversity, facing the top team in the Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL) in Ed Rulo’s interim head coaching debut on Saturday night. The Piasa hung tough with the undefeated Chicago Mustangs, but eventually fell 13-1 as Miguel Vaca picked up a hat trick for the visitors.

Piasa goalkeeper Adam Balbi put in an impressive performance, facing 60 shots as the Piasa defense kept the score at 3-0 going into halftime. The speedy, talented Mustangs turned up the pressure in the second half and a young Piasa side picked up valuable experience despite the final score.

The third time was the charm for striker Muriz Smajic, who scored the lone goal for the Piasa on a penalty after drawing Mustang fouls on two shootout attempts to earn the penalty attempt. The fourth quarter goal provided some positive momentum for the Piasa, who will look to improve with five games remaining in the 2013-2014 PASL season.

It took only 22 seconds for the Mustangs to strike first as Vaca found the back of the net off an Efrain Martinez assist.

The Piasa weathered the Mustangs attack and managed to get some offensive momentum, but with 4:03 to go in the quarter, Vaca found the net again with a powerful low shot into the corner of the netting to double the Chicago lead. Guilherme Veiga was credited with the assist.

With the Piasa picking up their sixth foul on the goal, the Mustangs went on the power play and peppered goalkeeper Adam Balbi’s goal. But the Piasa defense rose to the occasion to keep the deficit at two as the quarter came to a close.

The Mustangs offense started the second quarter strong, but the Piasa defense held their own.

At the 3:10 mark, the Piasa went on the power play for a sixth Mustang foul, but were unable to capitalize. Midfielder Cody Costakis had a good opportunity from the top of the box, but his shot went wide and the Piasa remained scoreless.

The Piasa had another power play with 8:01 to go in the period when Martinez picked up a blue card for shoving Piasa defender JJ Bilyeu into the boards. Defender Zac Kittrell had a decent chance at the end of the power play, but it was deflected away.

The Piasa offense continued to gain confidence, but it was the Mustangs who cruelly struck next with 1:12 left in the half. On a breakaway, Joshio Sandoval found Adan Quiroz, who was able to angle his shot past Balbi to make it 3-0.

Piasa defender Marco Flores picked up a blue card 49 seconds into the second half and the Mustangs were able to capitalize. Bryan Velazquez found the net off a Vaca pass to make it 4-0.

The Mustangs kept the pressure on as Victor Sanchez fed Joshio Sandoval to make it 5-0 at the 7:09 mark. And when Piasa midfielder Aaron Guzman picked up a blue card for boarding at the 9:08 mark, Sanchez was able to get on the scoresheet. His goal at the 10:39 mark made it 6-0 Mustangs.

The Piasa picked up their sixth foul with 2:25 to go in the third and the Mustangs picked up another power play goal. Martinez found Luis Ortega to make it 7-0 with 1:14 to go in the third.

The home team went on the power play 1:36 into the fourth quarter, but it was the Mustangs who extended their lead. Omar Santillan was able to break the Piasa power play and pick up an unassisted shorthanded goal to make it 8-0.

Then, on a set piece, Sanchez laid the ball off for Martinez, who buried his shot to make it 9-0 with 9:54 to go in the game. And the Mustangs made it double digits only 19 seconds later as Vaca completed a hat trick to make it 10-0. Just over a minute later, it was Ortega finding Aurinei Chico Parisotto for the 11-0 Mustangs lead at the 6:34 mark.

The Piasa finally caught their big break just twelve seconds later.

A foul in the box gave Muriz Smajic the opportunity to put the Piasa on the board. Mustangs keeper Jesus Flores saved his first shootout kick attempt, but the referee ruled that Smajic was impeded. On the second shootout kick attempt, Smajic rounded Flores and was about to put the ball into the net, but the goalie made contact with him, forcing referee Karen Swanner to award a penalty kick. Finally, Smajic blasted the penalty past Flores to put the Piasa on the board at the 6:46 mark.

The Mustangs, however, were not finished. Martinez fed David Aranda after the restart and he boomed the ball past Balbi to make it 12-1. And Santillan picked up his second of the quarter on a breakaway with 2:36 to go to make the final score 13-1.

The Piasa are next in action when they travel to Wichita to take on the B-52s next Saturday, January 18 at 7:05 pm.

The next home game is on Saturday, February 1 when the Piasa play host to the Cincinnati Saints at the Field Sports Complex in Pontoon Beach, Illinois. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:35 PM CST.

About Illinois Piasa:

Illinois Piasa is a professional arena soccer team in their fourth season in the Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL). Home games are played at The Field Sports Complex (formerly Soccer For Fun) located at 4141 State Route 111 in Pontoon Beach, Illinois, one mile south from the intersection of I-270 and IL-111.

To learn more about Illinois Piasa, please visit www.IllinoisPiasa.com.

About Professional Arena Soccer League and Premier Arena Soccer League:

The PASL is a professional league, which began play on October 25, 2008. The league, which will begin its sixth season in November, is the largest and longest-running arena soccer organization in the US. The Tulsa Revolution, Ontario Fury, Wichita B-52s, Monterrey Flash, Saltillo Rancho Seco, and Cleveland Freeze have been added for the 2013/14 season. The PASL-Premier just concluded its 16th season as the nation's top amateur arena soccer league and the official developmental league of the PASL. Both the PASL and PASL-Premier are members of Federacion Internacional de Futbol Rapido (FIFRA).

To learn more about the PASL, please visit www.PASLSoccer.com.

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