KiXX Win First-ever MISL Championship
Handsor Registers Hat-Trick and Takes Home MVP
Friday, May 3, 2002
By Greg Wiley
Chris Handsor scored the game -winning goal with 36.7 seconds left in the game, completing his hat trick and lifting the Philadelphia KiXX to their first-ever Major Indoor Soccer League Championship, 8-6, over the two-time defending champion Milwaukee Wave at the Bradley Center. Joel Shanker added a goal and an assist and Peter Pappas made 18 saves for Philadelphia, which rebounded from a 1-0 series deficit to win the best-of-three championship set two-games-to-one in front of an MISL postseason record crowd of 16,082.
Pat Morris also had an assist for the KiXX, who completed a record-setting season in fantastic fashion. Philadelphia won a franchise record 30 games in the regular season and finished second to the Wave, who had won all 24 games they played at the Bradley Center this season.
After falling behind 6-4, Shanker tied the game with 4:10 left and then set up the game-winner when his header hit the cross bar and went right to Handsor, who easily put the ball home. The win for the KiXX also ended the Wave's 30-game home winning streak.
"This was a great win," said KiXX player/coach Omid Namazi. "We battled and battled all series. This is a great group of players we have in Philly and we deserved this win."
Handsor was the KiXX regular-season leading scorer with 102 points and garnered the Most Valuable Player award for the series. Pappas also deserves credit for a stellar series, holding Milwaukee to only 10 points over the last two games. The Wave had won Game One of this Championship Series, 11-4, last Friday at the Bradley Center and the KiXX forced the deciding game by beating Milwaukee by the same score the very next night. Philadelphia's Kevin Sloan had five points in Game Two to lead the KiXX in scoring.
With the game tied at 4-4 in the fourth Milwaukee's Glenn Carbonara gave his team a two-point lead converting a Michael King pass at the 4:28 mark. The goal was the first Pappas allowed in the second half, having made seven saves in the third to hold the Wave scoreless in the stanza.
The goal didn't deflate the KiXX' effort, however, as the club had a number of opportunities over the next couple of minutes. Jim Hesch nearly gave Philadelphia a one-point lead, but his three-point attempt was deflected over the cross bar by MISL Goalkeeper of the Year Victor Nogueira. Philly's Don D'Ambra then had his turn around attempt go just wide seconds later and the Wave maintained their two-point lead.
The hard work paid off with 4:10 left in the game as Shanker beat Nogueira to once again tie the contest, this time at 6-6. The goal was the second of the postseason for Shanker, who also scored the game-winner for the East squad in the MISL All-Star Game this season.
Pappas then made one of his biggest and best saves of the game, stopping a back-heal attempt with only two minutes left to preserve the deadlock.
Nogueira finished with 14 saves for the Wave, who outshot the KiXX 40-38.
Milwaukee jumped out to a 2-0 lead at the 9:07 mark of the first period when Lovelace Ackah hammered home a restart goal from just to the right of Pappas. However, it took Philadelphia only 13 seconds to answer when Handsor beat Nogueira to even the score at 2-2. Pappas made a number of big saves to close out the quarter and Morris also saved a goal, blocking a sure score at the goal line in the final minutes.
In the second, Milwaukee regained the lead just 1:30 into the stanza as Marcelo Fontana took the ball coast to coast and from the top of the box scored. Fontana didn't make good contact with the ball, fooling Pappas in goal and the ball trickled across the line. Philadelphia weathered a barrage of shots by the Wave the rest of the half and went into the locker room trailing only by two points.
Despite the low score in the first half, the pace was quick and action was intense. Pappas stopped seven shots in the first 30 minutes of action, while Nogueira was forced to stop only five shots.
In the third, Handsor tied the game when he took a length-of-the-field restart pass from Morris and beat Nogueira at the 4:16 mark. Pappas played well in the opening minutes of the third, stopping a number of opportunities to keep the KiXX within striking distance. Then, after the goal, Pappas remained sharp and a timely block by Jim Hesch kept the game tied at 4-4. Milwaukee's Troy Dusosky also missed a golden opportunity after Handsor tied the game, hitting the post on a wide-open attempt after Pappas had fallen on a save attempt.
Pappas doubled his save total in the third, stopping all seven shots he faced to raise his total to 14 for the game. Nogueira faced six shots, stopping five to increase his total to 10.
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