Gordy Gurson got credit for a goal off the keeper and a defender in overtime at The Family Arena in St. Charles, MO, as the Orlando SeaWolves came back to beat the St. Louis Ambush, 7-6. Thiago Freitas netted a hat trick to keep Orlando in it early when the Ambush were dominating the game but failing to hit the target on the offensive end, and the SeaWolves came back from multiple deficits, including a two-goal disadvantage in the fourth period.
It wasn’t the sharpest game for Orlando, but the SeaWolves were able to grind out a hard-fought road win to improve to 6-5 on the season with their third straight win. The Ambush fell to 8-9. The two South Central Division rivals have played an incredibly close season series, with each team having now won twice in the four meetings. Two of those games have gone beyond regulation time and the other two were decided in the final 30 seconds.
The Ambush scored first just 2:14 into the game with Robert Acosta scoring after a scramble in front of Orlando’s net. Richard Schmermund cleared a shot off the line and the ball deflected off of the glass above the goal before finding Acosta’s foot. The St. Louis man hit his shot high and put the hosts ahead.
Joshio Sandoval and Mario Alvarez had some good scoring chances but couldn’t quite connect. The SeaWolves did manage to equalize anyway, however, Freitas stole the ball from the Ambush as they were trying to break out of their defensive zone. He dribbled into the offensive zone and slotted his shot inside the far post to make it 1-1 at the 10:45 mark of the first quarter.
The game was tied for only 49 seconds before St. Louis regained the advantage. Orlando tried to break out after a St. Louis corner but the ball deflected off an Ambush player and stayed in the zone. The deflection found its way to the foot of Magui Souza, who fired home and restored the St. Louis lead, 2-1. That’s the way the first quarter ended.
St. Louis was all over Orlando at the start of the second period but missed several shots just wide as the SeaWolves struggled with turnovers and sloppy play. That came back to haunt the Ambush when goalkeeper Paulo Nascimento had his outlet pass picked off by Freitas, who dribbled in three-on-the-keeper and slotted home his second to make it 2-2 at the 5:15 mark of the second.
The SeaWolves grabbed an improbable lead against the run of play as Freitas completed his hat trick on the break, slotting around Nascimento and just inside the back post at the 7:06 mark off a Gurson assist. Despite a sloppy first half and a number of close calls defensively, Orlando held its first lead of the night, 3-2.
Gurson had a chance to make it 4-2 but missed his shot just wide after a pair of slick passes gave him a great opportunity. St. Louis nearly equalized in the final minute of the half when Clayton Matheus’ shot was headed off the line as Edwin Rojas was forced into some emergency defending.
Orlando took its 3-2 lead into the locker room at halftime. The SeaWolves were out-shot by a 17-13 count and the Ambush were whistled for 10 fouls to Orlando’s seven.
The SeaWolves came out of the half playing deliberately, content to pass the ball around and hold possession. Orlando was able to get a few half chances but couldn’t hit the target. Gurson had a good opportunity to increase the lead late in the third but couldn’t hit his shot cleanly and St. Louis came down the other end and tied it up with 3:31 to play in the third. Justin Stinson had two SeaWolves on him along the boards but he was able to nutmeg Richard Schmermund with a pass to JT Thomas, who sent it into the corner. Stinson ran onto it and smashed it over Orlando goalkeeper Piotr Sliwa just inside the near post.
Things got worse for the SeaWolves. After Schmermund hit the post on a set piece shot attempt, he pulled down an Ambush player on the counter attack and was sent to the penalty box. Early in the St. Louis power play, the SeaWolves struggled to clear and Sliwa decided to try to dribble through traffic. The goalkeeper lost the ball and it was an easy tap-in goal into an empty net for Zach Reget.
Orlando got its first power play late in the third when Nascimento was called for contact above the shoulder/elbow. The clock expired on the third quarter with St. Louis ahead by a 4-3 count and the SeaWolves still on the power play for another 34 seconds.
Instead of pulling level with a power-play goal, the SeaWolves conceded a shorthanded goal just 15 seconds into the final period, making it 5-3 and taking full control of the game.
Orlando improbably climbed back in the game quickly. Osvaldo Rojas pulled a goal back with a backheel in front of the net at the 1:28 mark and then Elmo Neto scored from the top of the circle early on in a power play just 23 seconds later to level the game at 5-5.
Then Sliwa (momentarily) kept the game tied with a big save during a 3-v-1 break by St. Louis.
Thomas then broke the deadlock on a counter attack after Osvaldo was knocked down from behind at the top of the St. Louis zone and no call was made. Then St. Louis went on the power play on a phantom call against Neto, and things looked bleak for the SeaWolves.
But Orlando was able to kill off the two-minute penalty and then Mario Alvarez tied the game at 6-6 on a pass from Gurson on a 2-v-1 break at the 11:35 mark.
Neither team could find a winner before the end of regulation and the game headed into overtime. St. Louis out-shot the SeaWolves, 30-25 in regulation. Each team was 1-for-2 on the power play, with the Ambush committing 17 fouls to Orlando’s 12.
Orlando got the winner 1:35 into overtime. Elmo Neto forced a diving save by Nascimento and Gurson charged in for the rebound. He got there just ahead of the St. Louis keeper and kicked the ball off of Nascimento’s face. It caromed off of an Ambush defender and into the net for the game winner. Because the MASL has no own goals, the winner belongs to Gurson.
Orlando will travel on to Kansas City to face the Comets on Sunday at 5:05 p.m. ET. The game can be streamed at the MASL website or on YouTube.