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Cosmos let shot at fall title slip away with late goal

Cosmos forward Alessandro Noselli looks on from the

Cosmos forward Alessandro Noselli looks on from the field against FC Edmonton during the second half. (Oct. 20, 2013) Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

For many home games this season, the Cosmos have lived on the edge, saving their heroics and game-winning goals for the 11th hour.

Now that the soccer boot was on the other foot, it did not fit very well.

Needing a win to clinch the North American Soccer League fall title and a spot in Soccer Bowl on Nov. 9, the Cosmos allowed low-scoring and seventh-place FC Edmonton to strike for the equalizer in the 90th minute en route to a frustrating 1-1 draw at Shuart Stadium in Hempstead Sunday night.

David Proctor's goal canceled out second-half substitute Alessandro Noselli's 78th-minute tally as 5,624 fans left the regular-season fall finale at Hofstra disappointed.

NASL officials were on hand, ready to award the Cosmos the fall championship trophy.

"I wouldn't say it was considered a loss," Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese said. "It was not the result we were looking for."

Indeed, it wasn't. The first-place Cosmos (7-1-4, 25 points), whose five-game winning streak was snapped, extended their unbeaten streak to nine games (6-0-3). Edmonton (2-4-6, 12) entered the match with only nine goals.

"Of course we're disappointed," central defender and captain Carlos Mendes said. "One-nothing winning at home in the 89th minute, you expect to win the game. But we're still in control. If we win these next two games, we will be playing in Atlanta."

The Cosmos have two more shots -- at San Antonio on Saturday and at Atlanta on Nov. 2. Still, it was a difficult lesson.

"This is a reminder that this league is competitive. This league is tough," Savarese said. "We need to be aware that if we make it to the finals, it will be very difficult. Unfortunately, it came at the last minute, not at the best possible time."

Noselli struck for the second time in as many games as a substitute in the 78th minute. He toe-poked home Stefan Dimitrov's header past goalkeeper Lance Parker.

"I'm very happy for my goal but it is not a good day for me because after the goal, I thought the championship was ours," Noselli said, before Edmonton's equalizer off Lance Laing's corner kick.

The ball bounced to Proctor at the far left post and he knocked it past keeper Kyle Reynish. "We didn't attack it well as a team," Mendes said. "They're good at that. They live off set pieces and they just beat us to it."

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