Sidekicks continue perfect record at home as focus shifts to playoffs
Photo courtesy of Brandon Richardson - Brandon Richardson, left, and his wife, Melody, right, with Dallas Sidekicks head coach, Tatu.
By Brandon Richardson, Star Season Reporter
Fan Appreciation Night began Saturday with a moment of silence for a fallen colleague and ended with a crowd of almost 5,000 on its feet in celebration as the Sidekicks swept the season series from the Texas Strikers with a 10-4 win.
The sudden loss of former goalkeeper Shawn Ray earlier in the week weighed heavy on the organization during the pregame moment of silence, and the players wore black armbands to honor his memory.
Playing without their legendary coach -- who was forced to sit with a red card -- and a depleted roster due to a playoff game the next day, the Sidekicks set the tone early as Robert Luevano beat the keeper on a shootout goal 2:16 into the game. The Strikers, long eliminated from playoff contention, fought back to even the score at 1-1 at the end of the quarter. The game would soon get out of hand, however, as the Sidekicks netted four consecutive goals, with two coming from Bruno Guarda on the power play. The Sidekicks' lead at the half was 5-2.
After a slow third period, Guarda completed a hat trick by adding yet another power play goal on the third assist of the night from Dallas native Chad Deering. A Strikers goal with 6 seconds left in the period kept the crowd interested as the lead was cut to 3. That's when the Sidekicks did what they do best and finished off the game by adding four consecutive goals in the final period, with two coming from Mark Withers to complete his hat trick and a perfect home record in their first season back since 2004.
In their inaugural season in Allen, the Sidekicks were tops in the league in average attendance with more than 5,000 fans per game. They ended the San Diego Sockers' unbelievable 48-game winning streak, and legendary alum and current head coach Tatu had his jersey retired in front of his adoring fans.
Despite losing game one of the playoffs Sunday, the Sidekicks will return home Thursday looking for redemption in front of the fans who have made this season a huge success.