The Buffalo Blizzard hit the halfway mark of the National Professional Soccer League season just the way it started it -- with a loss.
Buffalo saw a 4-0 halftime lead evaporate in the third quarter and lost to the St. Louis Ambush, 8-6, Sunday night at the Kiel Center.
Brad Smith scored two first-half goals and Jim Hesch tallied a two-pointer in the third quarter for Buffalo. Bill Becher scored a pair of deuces to lead the Ambush, which came into the game with the NPSL's worst record.
"We looked pathetic," said Blizzard coach George Fernandez. "To tell you the truth, it was probably one of the worst losses we've had in Buffalo since I've been here. Our feet were caught in mud. We got beat to the ball. We were standing around. . . . The whole game was a nightmare."
The loss dropped the Blizzard to 10-12 for the season and left Buffalo 3 1/2 games behind first-place Montreal in the Central Division. Buffalo, which lost its first two games and eight of its first 12, got back to .500 before losing the last two games on a three-game road swing.
St. Louis (7-15) ended a five-game losing streak, winning for the first time under new player/coach Joe Reiniger, who took over Friday from Jamie Swanner, a former Buffalo goalkeeper.
Reiniger contributed four points to his first victory. His three-point goal put St. Louis ahead for the first time, 5-4, in the third period. He followed with a shootout goal after a tripping penalty against Smith and assisted on Becher's winner 39 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Hesch gave Buffalo a 6-6 tie with 3:39 left in the third period with an unassisted restart goal, but that was it for the Blizzard.
Smith headed home Mali Walton's rebound at 9:14 of the first and scored again at 1:09 of the second.
Becher scored at 51 seconds of the third when Mike LaPosha's shot hit the inside of the left post and stayed out. The rebound went to Becher, and, with goalkeeper Carlos Pena down, he hit the upper left corner. Pena made 19 saves after missing four starts because of a groin injury.