September 4, 1998
The first-year San Diego Flash earned its first Division and regular season Conference titles during its three-game Northern California road trip. San Diego will have home-field advantage throughout the Conference playoffs. The Pacific Division was won on Sunday with a 3-2 shootout victory over the San Francisco Bay Seals in Kezar Stadium. The following 4-1 win on Tuesday in Salinas against the California Jaguars clinched the best regular season point total in the Western Conference.
The champagne was flowing in the Salinas Sports Complex's visitors locker room on Tuesday, but it was almost a token gesture as there was a subdued atmosphere surrounding the team. The players know that this is only the first step in winning the A-League championship and that they have not accomplished anything yet. "We are very proud and excited for the opportunity that we have provided ourselves by winning the top seed in the playoffs, but we have a long way to go before we can really celebrate anything," stated coach Costa Skouras. Skouras is now 12-1 (11-0 in regulation matches) since taking over the Ralf Wilhelms on July 8.
The first round of the playoffs will begin at Devore Stadium on Saturday, September 12. The single-elimination game will be against the Western Conference's eight seed. The Flash could face a variety of teams and has no preference of to which team they want to play. "It will be a tough challenge whomever we face, however we get them at our place and that is big," noted Skouras.
San Diego Improves League-Best Win Streak to Nine, Hits 20-Win Mark
The San Diego Flash (20-6, 58) ran it's A-League-best winning streak to nine games with its Northern California trio sweep this past weekend. The team won each match in a different fashion. The first match on Friday versus California was a 1-0 defensive struggle. Leading scorer Antonio Robles' 63rd-minute goal stood up and goalkeeper Joe Cannon recorded his 12 shutout of the season. The Flash traveled to San Francisco Sunday to meet the Seals in Kezar Stadium. It was the fifth consecutive come-from-behind win for San Diego after it has fallen behind. Trailing 2-0 at the half, the team was confident in the locker room and came out blazing. Kevin Legg tallied in the 50th-minute and Jerome Watson tied the game eleven minutes later. In the shootout, Cannon saves all four Seals chances, while Watson and Brad Smith scored for the Flash for the 3-2 (2-0) win. Tuesday in the final game of the six-day trip, San Diego faced a dangerous last-place Jaguar team coming off its biggest win of the season (4-0 vs. Seattle, 8/30) and beat them 4-1. Mauricio Alegre notched his first two goals of the season and Jaime Munro tallied his first in the win. Nate Hetherington put in his seventh of the year for the other Flash score.
Flash Finish Season With Two Matches at Home and on the Road
The inaugural campaign of the San Diego Flash ends with two matches this weekend. Friday will be Fan Appreciation Night at Devore Stadium as the Flash meet California for the third time in seven days. Over $1,500 worth of gifts and prizes will be raffled off during the match. It will also be unused ticket night.
The Flash will travel to Irvine Sunday to meet rival Orange County at 4:00 p.m. in the fourth and final match of the Southern California Derby. San Diego leads the series two games to one with a +3 goal differential.
First-Round Playoff Date is September 12, Tickets on Sale Now
The Flash's first round single-elimination match will be played on Saturday, September 12 in the "Lighting Bowl" at Devore Stadium, 7:30 p.m. kickoff. The opponent would be the Western Conference's eight seeded team. Tickets are on sale now to the public.