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CEDAR RAPIDS — In the second half of their Major Arena Soccer League game Thursday night, the Cedar Rapids Rampage offense just plain dried up.
As a result, any chance at a first playoff berth likely evaporated right with it.
Cedar Rapids led by as many as three scores, but six unanswered goals allowed the Harrisburg Heat (8-8) to oust the Rampage, 9-6, in the home finale before 2,152 fans at the U.S. Cellular Center.
“We lacked a little bit of desire in the third quarter,” Cedar Rapids player-coach Hewerton Moreira said. “And when you are fighting for a spot in the playoffs, you cannot turn off a little.”
Cedar Rapids (11-7) — losers of five of its last eight games — will need either Milwaukee (12-6) or Kansas City (13-4) to lose their remaining games to qualify for the playoffs. Kansas City is riding an eight-game win streak, while Milwaukee is 8-1 in its last nine contests.
“That is not comfortable,” Moreira said. “That is not good.”
The Rampage were strong early. Two first-quarter goals by Moreira — including a 40-yard strike over the head of the Harrisburg goalkeeper — allowed Cedar Rapids to build a lead throughout the first half. Goals by Sam Guernsey, Jon Pachar and Cedar Rapids native Charlie Bales staked Cedar Rapids to a 5-3 halftime lead before the offense went south.
A Cedar Rapids dry spell of more than 25 minutes invited the Harrisburg rally. Heat forward Elmo Neto — who collected 16 goals and 12 assists in 16 games last season with Cedar Rapids — scored four against his old team, including three during the 6-0 surge.
“The thing is, when you give a few unanswered goals, you have to score one or two to kill the momentum,” Moreira said. “We weren’t able to do that.”
Defender Joshio Sandoval distributed a team-high three assists. The Rampage have now allowed 50 goals in their last five games.
Cedar Rapids won seven of 10 home games this season and closes its second MASL campaign with a pair of road games — Sunday at Chicago and Feb. 26 at Kansas City.
AT U.S. CELLULAR CENTER
Harrisburg 1 2 2 4—9
Cedar Rapids 2 3 0 1—6
First Quarter — Scoring: 1. Cedar Rapids, Hewerton Moreira, 2:46; 2. Harrisburg, Elmo Neto (Marcos Chantel), 6:59; 3. Cedar Rapids, Hewerton Moreira (Joshio Samdoval, 10:04.
Second Quarter — Scoring: 4. Cedar Rapids, Sam Guernsey (Joshio Sandoval), 6:29; 5. Harrisburg, Fernando Gatica (Ricardo Carvalho), 7:19; 6. Cedar Rapids, Jonnathan Pachar (Bobby Hurwitz), 9:46; 7. Cedar Rapids, Charlie Bales (Derek Huffman), 13:50; 8. Harrisburg, Hugo Silva, 14:31.
Third Quarter — Scoring: 9. Harrisburg, Lucio Gonzaga, 8:53; 10. Harrisburg, Elmo Neto, 12:05.
Fourth Quarter — Scoring: 11. Harrisburg, Thiago Freitas (Ricardo Carvalho), 0:30; 12. Harrisburg, Elmo Neto (Fernando Gatica), 5:24; 13. Harrisburg, Elmo Neto (Ricardo Carvalho), 6:37; 14. Cedar Rapids, Pablo Da Silva (Joshio Sandoval), 9:19; 15. Harrisburg, Thiago Freitas (Hugo Silva), 14:14.
Goalies — Cedar Rapids: Brett Petricek 16-9; Harrisburg: Hugo Silva 16-6. Shots on goal — Cedar Rapids 6-5-1-10—23; Harrisburg 4-9-6-6—27. A—2,152.
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