Molano's Hat Trick Gives Lazers 7-4 Win Over Dallas

Times Staff Writer

Willie Molano scored three goals--his first hat trick of the season--as the Lazers came from behind to defeat the Dallas Sidekicks, 7-4, Friday night before a Forum crowd of 5,469.

The Lazers, who had lost seven of their last nine Major Indoor Soccer League games, trailed, 3-1, in the first quarter, then scored four straight goals to take the lead for good.

The victory improves the Lazers' record to 21-19 and leaves them in third place in the MISL's Western Division. Dallas, an expansion team, falls to 13-31.

The win was a much-needed one in the Lazers' quest for a second-straight playoff appearance, especially since their last eight regular-season games include two against first-place San Diego and one against second-place Las Vegas.

The top three teams in each division automatically qualify for the playoff quarterfinals, while the four teams with the next-best record, regardless of division, have to meet in a playoff miniseries.

The Lazers would just as soon avoid that extra step by finishing at least third.

"We would like to have that 10-day break," Coach Peter Wall said.

Wall shuffled his lineup a little Friday night, starting former UCLA goalie Tim Harris over veteran Mike Mahoney for only the third time this season.

"If we're going to do very well in the playoffs, Harris will have to be able to play," Wall said.

The Lazers opened the scoring when midfielder Greg Ion took a pass from forward Stuart Lee and scored from about 10 feet out.

The Sidekicks, who had beaten the Lazers in their last meeting in Dallas, responded with three straight goals, two from Brazilian forward Tatu.

Tatu first beat Harris on a penalty shot 7:26 into the first quarter to tie the score. It was his 51st goal of the year, and caused for him to toss his shirt into the crowd, as he always does after scoring a goal.

He did so again less than half-a-minute later, hitting the back of the net from just outside the goalie box.

A goal by Ian Martin made it 3-1, and the Lazers looked to be in trouble. However, two goals by Molano--including one short-handed goal off a sharp, cross-field pass from Ion--and one each by midfielders Martin Vasquez and Batata restored the Lazers' lead.

Dallas midfielder Wes McLeod got one by Harris with 3:52 left in the half, and the Lazers went to the locker room leading, 5-4.

That lead soon increased when Vasquez scored his second goal off a pass from forward Poli Garcia 11:40 into the third quarter.

Then, a pass from Batata to Molano just inside the penalty box led to Molano's third goal.

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