The Anaheim Bolts still have playoff aspirations, which is an achievement in itself after that five-game losing streak nearly finished them off before February. This weekend's two-game sweep in Tacoma has their first Professional Arena Soccer League season hinging on two matches, it appears.
The Bolts (6-7) held on for a 12-10 victory Saturday over the Stars (3-9), then overcame an early deficit and again held on for a 12-11 win Sunday, their second and third straight victories. Hugo Casillas scored hat tricks in both -- he leads Anaheim with 21 goals -- and Juan Gonzalez and then Adriano de Lima contributed four-goal efforts.
“Tremendous, man,” head coach Bernie Lilavois, whose team has three games remaining, told ESPN Los Angeles. “That's three games in a row, and we need to win six in a row -- and we need help ... and we'll see at the end of the schedule where the chips fall.”
Three teams from the Western Division make the playoffs. Two-time defending PASL Pro champion San Diego (14-0) already has a semifinal berth. A playoff between the second- and third-place teams -- two from among Turlock (9-5), Tijuana (8-5) and the Bolts -- will determine another semifinalist. Head-to-head is the first tiebreaker, and the Bolts win theirs against Turlock but not against Tijuana.
The games that most matter involve Tijuana. If the Revolucion wins Friday night in Turlock and Anaheim beats them next Sunday, then San Diego's quest for perfection (the Sockers play at Tacoma on Feb. 24) and another Bolts sweep of Tacoma (Feb. 26 at Anaheim Convention Center) sends the local team to the postseason.
“That [Turlock-Tijuana game] could help us a lot in terms of what's in our hands,” Lilavois said. “And then the game against Tijuana, that's a playoff game. ... We believe in destiny, and we'll see what destiny has in store for us.”
WORTH NOTING: Enrique Tovar, who was No. 2 on the Bolts in goals (18) and led the team with 13 assists, left to sign with Syracuse of the Major Indoor Soccer League. ... The Bolts' 6-1 halftime lead Saturday was trimmed to one goal four times. Anaheim overcame a quick 3-1 deficit Sunday, used an 8-1 run to open an 11-6 advantage, then surrendered four goals in the final four minutes. ... Rafael Gaytan did not score in either game, ending an eight-game scoring streak to start his PASL Pro career. He was red-carded Sunday and will miss the game against Tijuana. ... The Bolts will play twice on Feb. 26, the final day of the regular season, taking on Tacoma at 1 and 6 p.m. in Anaheim. The second game is a make-up of the Dec. 18 date postponed because of field issues. The games will have separate admissions, and there will be a fan fest in the fountain area outside the arena's main entrance between games and free clinics for children before each game. ... The Kansas Magic (7-7) this weekend won a playoff berth in the East. The Detroit Waza (11-3) and Louisville Lightning (11-4) previously clinched. The final spot will go to Cincinnati (6-9) or Illinois (6-10). ... Sunday's loss eliminated Tacoma from the playoff race. ... The final four will be March 9-10 in Del Mar.