An indoor soccer game is supposed to last 60 minutes. If it goes into overtime, teams have 15 minutes to decide the game. But if a shootout is required, the game is supposed to be decided after each team takes five shots.
The Sockers and Minnesota Strikers threw all of the normalities out of the window in Game 4 of their Major Indoor Soccer League semifinal series Sunday night.
They went to a shootout, and it took 14 shooters per team before the Sockers finally won, 4-3, to advance to the MISL championship series.
A shootout involves one player from a team against the opposing goaltender. The shooter starts at the red line, 70 feet from the goal, and has five seconds to score.
On Shootout Round No. 14, Socker Steve Zungul was tripped by Minnesota goalkeeper Tino Lettieri. Zungul was awarded a penalty kick, scoring on a shot into the lower, left-hand corner of the net.
Before the Sockers could win, goalkeeper Jim Gorsek had to prevent Minnesota's John Bain from scoring. Bain's shot hit the right crossbar.
"It was real close," Gorsek said. "I saw the ball hit the inside corner of the net and knew the game was over. What a relief."
In the Minnesota locker room, relief was not the word. Instead, protest was on the Strikers' minds.
The Strikers will file an official league protest today over the order of Socker shooters in the shootout.
Minnesota Coach Alan Merrick said each team was allowed 10 shooters and two alternates in the shootout. Ade Coker, among the Socker alternates, took San Diego's 10th shot and missed. Minnesota argued with the referees, but only because Coker wasn't supposed to shoot.
In the 13th round of the shootout, Jacques Ladouceur scored for San Diego. Ladouceur had been listed among San Diego's first 10 shooters, but his first shot wasn't until Round 13. Minnesota claimed that if Coker shot in the round of 10, he should have shot again instead of Ladouceur. After each team took 10 shots, Minnesota claimed the teams were supposed to use the same 10 shooters again in rounds 11 to 20.
"I asked the referees about that," Socker Coach Ron Newman said. "I told them I knew that Jacques was in our first 10 shooters, but Ade had taken the shot. I asked if Jacques could shoot and they said it was OK."
Said Merrick: "A procedure was wrong. It's like a substitution penalty. If you stretch the rules, you should get caught. Whether that was the case here, I don't know. This shouldn't have happened. The outcome was that the guy who took the shot (Ladouceur) happened to score a goal that helped them win."
Minnesota's Jan Goossens followed Ladouceur and scored. Thus, the shootout was tied after 13 rounds, 3-3.
Then came Zungul, who had missed the Sockers' fifth shootout attempt. Zungul faked right, went left and was tripped by Lettieri. Zungul said it was just cause for a penalty shot. Lettieri disagreed.
"That was a cheap call," Lettieri said. "I dove, and he fell over me. It was a good acting job on his part. That's a bad way to end the game--on a penalty shot."
San Diego's first two shootout goals were by Jean Willrich (Round 2) and Kaz Deyna (Round 6). Minnesota's were by Chris Dangerfield (Round 3) and Gregg Thompson (Round 6). Since the Sockers shot first each round, Gorsek faced six consecutive shots in which a goal would have beaten him.
"I tried not to think of that aspect," Gorsek said. "I like the one-on-one situations. That's one of the strong points of my game."
In regulation, Branko Segota scored San Diego's three goals in the first half. The Sockers led at halftime, 3-1. Alan Willey scored at 6:49 of the third quarter for Minnesota, and Hudson tied the game with 4:11 left in regulation.
When the Sockers led, 3-2, with 4:20 remaining, Lettieri blocked Zungul's shot with his hand while out of the goalie's box. The infraction is supposed to result in a penalty kick, but it wasn't called.
"We caught a break," Lettieri said. "Indoor soccer is so fast that the referees can't see it all."
Zungul: "I was frustrated by the referees throughout the game. I'm 100% sure that shot would have been a goal. If the referees would have called the penalty, the game wouldn't have gone into overtime."
However, the game did go into overtime--and then some.
"It was exciting, but I'm used to it," Willrich said.
AT A GLANCE
SOCKERS VS. STRIKERS
Game 1 Sockers 8, Strikers 1 Game 2 Sockers 6, Strikers 5 (OT) Game 3 Strikers 8, Sockers 5 Game 4 Sockers 4, Strikers 3 OTHER SERIES
TUESDAY NIGHT'S GAME
Cleveland at Baltimore 7:35 p.m. (Series is tied at 2)