Nashville Diamonds 1, Pennsylvania Stoners 0 (06.20.82)

Pennsylvania 0-1 Nashville

June 20, 1982 — Bethlehem School District Stadium (Bethlehem, Pa.)

Scoring Summary
NASH — Godwin Iwelumo (penalty) 87′

Stoners’ streak is halted

(Allentown Morning Call, 06.21.82)

By Joe Kita

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Streaks, like pastry and lace, are flimsy things. They beautiful stoic yet delicately breakable; fascinating yet meaningless.

Last night, before 1,612 fans at Bethlehem School District Stadium, the Pennsylvania Stoners had their 34-game home unbeaten streak ended by the Nashville Diamonds 1-0.

It was not a pretty way for this sugar-coated string to end either. Rather than coming against a powerful, cannon-footed team like Georgia, it came against an often gimpy-kneed team called the Diamonds — a squad which had not won a game since May 15 … a squad which was sweeping out the cellar in America’s Soccer League at 1-8-1. And what’s probably most important, the game was not decided in convincing fashion. Rather, the outcome hinged on a questionable penalty kick by one Godwin Iwelumo.

Perhaps a bit of background is needed to set up this fist pounding, head shaking call. Coming off Friday night’s 3-1 win over league leading Georgia, the Stoners looked as flat as expected over the initial 20 minutes. However, in the second period they had four very good scoring  opportunities, but Nashville goalie Fred Armstrong did not flinch. Even though the score was tied 0-0 at halftime, there seemed to be no doubt in the minds of the spectators that Pennsylvania would humble its opponents once again. It led it shots 10-6 and corners 6-2 at that juncture.

After an uneventful third period, the Stoners appeared to get the deciding break when the referee whistled a penalty kick after Ron Ost, who had received a long lead pass from Lesh Shkreli, was fouled by Bret Simon. With Kevin Costello, who had not missed a penalty kick all season, doing the booting it seemed like more of a lock than Holmes winning in Vegas. But, as we should have guessed, there are no sure bets.

Goalie Armstrong, who was voted the game’s outstanding player, dove to his left just as the ball left Costello’s foot and made the save.

“It’s the sort of play where you have to guess one side of the net and then go to it,” said Armstrong, who recorded his second shutout of the season. “I was lucky. He hit it so hard that I didn’t have time to react. I just anticipated where the shot was going and dove.”

Armstrong could not have anticipated what would happen next, though. With 3:56 remaining in the game Matt Rhodes got tangled up with Juan Yepez and the referee signaled penalty kick Nashville. A few seconds later Iwelumo blasted a shot over goalie Tom Reynolds.

“I pushed him to the outside and tried to steal the ball,” said Rhodes. “That’s exactly what I wanted to do. I just cut across him and he took a dive. In fact, after the player was over, he looked up at me and smiled. Maybe the ref was trying to give an eye for an eye but he had no justification for calling a penalty kick there. It was a good clean play which might have been obstruction but not a penalty kick.”

Iwelumo thought otherwise though. “At first I didn’t think the ref was going to call it,” he explained. “I had the ball all the way and I thought I was going to score until he knocked me down. I got hit right in the calf. There was no doubt in my mind.”

“I can’t blame the officials,” said Stoner Coach Kalman Csapo. “He gave us the same chance before. We just had a letdown this game. The guys didn’t look sharp.”