The heavily underdog Albany Capitals completed a stunning elimination of the Maryland Bays from the American Professional Soccer League semifinal playoffs last night, defeating the Bays, 1-0, in a best-of-five penalty-kick shootout in the deciding 30-minute mini-game before 2,741 at Cedar Lane Park.
The Capitals were 10-11 in the regular season and Maryland 19-2. But they ousted the defending APSL champions when Lee Tschantret's 12-yard penalty kick in the shootout sailed over the hands of Maryland goalkeeper Steve Powers into the upper left corner of the net.
Earlier last night, Maryland forced the deciding mini-game by winning Game 2, 2-1, on goals by Phillip Gyau and Kevin Sloan.
That evened the series at 1, since Albany had won Game 1, 2-1, in overtime Sept. 6 at home.
After a 15-minute break following Game 2, the teams met in the mini-game.
Tschantret's penalty kick gave Albany a 5-4 edge in the shootout, with the Bays missing only on a penalty kick by John Abe.
Abe's failed kick was stopped by Scoop Stanisic, who guessed right and went to his left on the shot.
Stanisic had played against Abe in the indoor National Professional Soccer League last season. Thus, he knew what to expect from Abe, considered the top penalty-kick shooter on the Bays.
Abe is so proficient at penalty kicks that he and Michael Brady were put into the game by coach Gary Hindley near the end of the mini-game when it was obvious it likely would end in a scoreless tie.
However, Abe said he wished he would have had more than a minute to get warmed up for the penalty-kick situation.
"I would have liked to have been a little warmer," he said. "I know Scoop was expecting me to go to his left, but I wasn't going to change anything."
For Abe, it was even more a bitter finish since his penalty kick had won the APSL championship for the Bays against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers last season in Boston.
"Abe's the best penalty-kick shooter in the league," teammate Jeff Agoos said. "We know he's going to make it every time. It just didn't happen tonight."
Hindley said: "I think it's the first time John has ever missed one. I told him with 13 minutes left in the mini-game to get warm. He knew he was coming into the game."
Agoos, Abe and Powers were upset that Albany had used stalling tactics throughout the mini-game in an attempt to get to the shootout.
The Capitals were down one and two men at times in the mini-game. That was because they had lost four players who were given yellow warning cards in the regulation game.
Those players had received their fourth (or more) yellow card of the season and could not play in the mini-game. In the APSL, a player has to sit out one game after getting his fourth yellow card.
Bays defender Chris Reif said: "They were kicking the ball out of bounds and walking around so much that we might have played 10 minutes of the 30 minutes. It was terrible."
But Hindley said he had no problem with Albany's tactics since they came within the rules of the game.
"It's up to the refs to force a team to stop stalling and, if they don't, there's nothing nobody can do," he said. "I'm not any less proud of my team after this than I was after we were 19-2. We just didn't have enough time in the mini-game to play. We played almost perfect for six months of the season and then lose on a shootout where anything can happen."