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STING FACE UNBEATEN S.F. SQUAD

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The Salt Lake Sting haven't even played their first home soccer game and already they have a reputation that's preceding them.

On the basis of two wins last weekend in New Mexico and Arizona, the Sting find themselves all alone in first place in the North Division of the WSL Conference of the American Professional Soccer League (now there's a mouthful and a half). For short, it's the North Division of the APSL West.For the first professional soccer game in Salt Lake since 1976, the Sting will meet another undefeated team Saturday in the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks, who also stand 2-0 going into the 5 p.m. game at Derks Field.

But the Sting have 14 points to the Blackhawks' 13 under the complicated APSL point system, which gives a team six points for a win and an additional point for each goal it scores up to three. A penalty-kick win is worth four points, plus points for goals scored in regulation. So the Sting received nine points for their 3-1 win over New Mexico and five for the 2-1 overtime shootout win over Arizona.

Usually, expansion teams (Salt Lake is one of three in the APSL West) don't fare too well in their initial seasons. Standing first so early in the season isn't necessarily a surprise to Sting Coach Laurie Calloway.

"A lot of people asked if I would be happy with a split last week and I said, `Absolutely not.' I wanted to win them both and thought we could," said Calloway.

"I couldn't have asked more from the team, playing on two different surfaces, in the home opener for both opponents, going from 6,000 feet one night to 95 degrees the next, and with five players coming off strep throat. Everything seemed to be against us."

The Sting had no trouble in the first game, as Dominic Militello scored three goals in his first professional game and the Sting outshot the Chiles 17 to 11.

In the second game, the Sting held a 1-0 lead throughout most of the game until Arizona scored in the 90th minute as time ran out. Calloway felt his team was cheated because the game was allowed to run longer than it should have and because of the way a penalty kick was called. However, Salt Lake rebounded to survive the 20-minute overtime and win in the shootout.