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ONE-POINT GOALS ADD UP TO BLIZZARD VICTORY

It seemed like old times -- indoor soccer's old times -- during the Buffalo Blizzard's 12-9 victory over the Florida ThunderCats Friday night.

Back in ancient times, when Buffalo was represented by the Stallions in the Major Indoor Soccer League, every goal counted for just one single point. And that's almost the way it was this time before a crowd of 6,512 at Marine Midland Arena.

In a chippy game marred by seven penalties, half of the game's 14 goals -- including four of Buffalo's eight scores -- came on shoot-outs and power plays, the kind of goals that produce only one point each in the National Professional Soccer League.

Buffalo improved to 3-2 while Florida slipped to 2-6.

"We heard all week that that's the way they were," Blizzard forward Andrew Crawford said. "I think they lead the league in fouls. They're hard working, and when they're that hard-working, they're going to get their fouls."

Crawford beat goalkeepers Scott Hileman and Juan De La O to net a pair of one-on-one shoot-out goals that helped snap Buffalo's two-game losing streak.

Crawford's first goal gave Buffalo a 7-0 lead and his second made it 11-4 before the T-Cats clawed back to come within a three-point goal with 23 seconds left.

"No lead is safe in this league," Crawford said. "We've come back from double-digit deficits before. With three-point goals and two-point goals, anything can happen."

Buffalo's other one-point goals were scored on power plays by Rudy Pikuzinski and Doug Miller. Miller also scored on a two-point penalty kick and got assists on a pair of two-pointers by Bernie Lilavois, the game's first star.

"We kept good possession this game," Lilavois said. "One thing we didn't want is to sit through films for about 12 hours again with (coach) George (Fernandez) again this week. It was on everyone's minds, so we came ready to play."

Buffalo, which often does its best work from close in, struck quickly and scored three two-pointers from goalkeeper Hileman's doorstep in the first 3:37 of the game.

First Lilavois tapped in a cross-floor pass from Miller. Then defender Tim Hardy got his first goal of the season with a far-post tap-in of a pass from co-defender David Banks on play that started out as a free kick from 50 feet out.

The first-quarter scoring ended with Lilavois' second goal, a rising, curving kick that just cleared the crossbar.

The penalties started late in the second quarter, when Hileman drew two tripping calls. The infractions resulted in Buffalo scoring three goals worth four points and extending its lead to 10-0.

"We definitely worked very hard on both our power play and our defensive power play," said Fernandez, who also was disappointed at the number of times Buffalo missed scoring chances in man-advantage situations.

"We kept possession, we broke them down, we gave ourselves the opportunities for two-on-ones, three-on-twos. We had those opportunities. They didn't go in tonight, but we had good fortune and didn't need them. At least we're getting those opportunities," Fernandez said.

Buffalo, which led 10-0 late in the first half, took a 12-4 lead into the wild fourth quarter, which saw Florida score an unanswered five points on goals by Jeff Betts (his third of the game), John Olu-Molomo and former Blizzard forward Jean Harbor.

Harbor's goal, with Hileman pulled in favor of a sixth attacker, bounced in off Buffalo defenders Ricky Rodriguez and Scott Blokker.

"We played so good defensively the whole game and then they get some lucky bounces," Buffalo goalkeeper Bill Andracki said.

"Last week (at Wichita) we fell asleep after we were up. Playing at home makes a big difference," Andracki said. "We played good defense the whole first half. . . . I felt defensively, collectively as a unit, we played our best match of the year."

Buffalo hosts the Harrisburg Heat tonight at 7:30.

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