10/25/08 - STOCKTON Aaron Susi’s first half hat-trick and opening goal set the tone for the Cougars during their 10-5 win against the Lightning in the inaugural Professional Arena Soccer League match at Stockton Arena on Saturday night.
Colorado matched Stockton throughout the first half by tying the game three times. But a second half onslaught led by Greg Howes proved to be the difference in the match. The Stockton faithful of 3,239 watched and cheered as Howes netted two goals and helped his new team with four assists in the historic event.
A narrow first half lead in favor of the Cougars at 5-4 quickly changed when Stockton poured five third quarter goals on the Lightning defense. The offensive attack was ignited by Susi, Howes and Lilavois. Jesus Molina anchored the defense as he made his professional debut with the Cougars.
Colorado managed just one goal (a penalty kick converted by goalkeeper Michael Archuleta with .01 remaining in the match) in the second half against Molina and Stockton. The United States National Arena Soccer team goalkeeper looked impressive in net, especially during a back-to-back save series early in the fourth quarter. The athletic display slowed down a slight change of momentum by the Lightning early in the final quarter.
Brian Farber scored two goals for Stockton while his college teammate, Evan McNeley, picked up one assist. Cougars’ rookie defender Josh Copeland scored the first goal of his professional career and last season’s standout rookie Majell Aterado picked up one.
Susi’s head flick goal with 12:41 remaining in the first quarter started what turned into a highly competitive first half. Zach Cousins tied the match with the first goal in Lightning history with 7:04 left in the first half.
A strong effort from Lightning goalkeeper Michael Archuleta kept the Cougars off the scoreboard for the next three minutes before Susi and the Cougars found the net again. McNeley assisted Susi on the goal, the second of three scored by Susi during the match.
The first quarter concluded with Ben Mendozza netting his first professional goal with just 10 seconds remaining in the quarter.
The 2-2 tie ended when Farber picked up his first of two goals. It came with 10:59 left in the half, but yet again Colorado kept pace with the veteran club by scoring to tie the match again. Clayton Zelin was the Colorado player to get on the board with the first of two goals from him on the night. His goal happened during a power play against the Cougars.
Susi corrected things again for Stockton with a goal assisted by Howes. It happened just minutes after the power play goal from Zelin. Farber followed with his second goal, this time assisted by Lilavois and it put the Cougars on top 5-3 with 2:44 left in the half.
Zelin netted his second goal to bring the Lightning within one at 5-4, but that would be the final goal of the first half.
Colorado kept pace with the Cougars throughout the first half, but their young legs tired on the big field in the second. Stockton stretched the Lightning throughout the half with pinpoint passing across the field.
Howes assisted Aterado on an early third quarter goal and then connected on his own just minutes later. The Howes goal was assisted by Lilavois and it brought the Cougars to a 7-4 lead.
Copeland got into the mix for the first time in his professional career with a goal assisted by Howes. The Stockton dominated third quarter concluded with another goal from Howes with 3:44 remaining.
Lilavois nailed the final goal scored on a beautiful one-two-three give and go by the Cougars. The play started near midfield with McNeley kicking a long pass to Howes who then rolled a perfect ball to Lilavois for the final score of the match.
The final goal came from Archuleta after a power play penalty was called against Susi with less than a second remaining in the match.
The Stockton fans were treated to an exciting contest between the two squads and should expect the same when the Cougars return to the pitch on November 9 against San Diego. The Cougars welcome the Sockers to Stockton Arena that night, the match starts at 6:15 p.m.
Tickets to the event are available by calling (209) 373-1550 or by visiting the Cougars website at www.stocktoncougars.net.
(Goal, Assist, Quarter, Time Left, Score)
Susi, Aterado, Q1, 12:41, 1-0
Cousins, Unassisted, Q1, 1-1
Susi, McNeley, Q1, 4:09, 2-1
Mendozza, Unassisted, Q1, :10, 2-2
Farber, Unassisted, Q2, 10:59, 3-2
Zelin, Dominguez, PPG, Q2, 8:14, 3-3
Susi, Howes, Q2, 4-3
Farber, Lilavois, Q2, 2:44, 5-3
Zelin, Ramos, Q2, 1:34, 5-4
Aterado, Howes, Q3, 13:08, 6-4
Howes, Lilavois, Q3, 11:54, 7-4
Copeland, Howes, Q3, 8-4
Howes, Unassisted, Q3, 3:44, 9-4
Lilavois, Howes, Q4, 9:33, 10-4
Archuleta, Unassisted PK, Q4, :00.1, 10-5