New Arch-Rival Steamers Shock the Sockers, 8-7
After Wednesday night’s game, Brian Quinn shouted out to his Socker teammates, “Well guys, we’ll have plenty of time to see the Arch.”
He was referring to a landmark attraction in St. Louis, where the Sockers will now have to spend the next three days.
The arch is beautiful and majestic, but the Sockers would much rather have seen the airport.
And they would have, if they hadn’t squandered a 6-3 lead late in the third quarter and 7-5 edge in the final quarter and lost to the Steamers, 8-7, Wednesday at The Arena.
In what has turned out to be a more competitive best-of-five series than anticipated, San Diego leads St. Louis two games to one in a Major Indoor Soccer League Western Division semifinal series.
Because the St. Louis Blues (another surprise team) will host Toronto in the opening game of their NHL playoff series Friday night at The Arena, the fourth game of the Sockers’ series has been moved from Friday night to Saturday night.
The Sockers beat the Steamers, 7-6, in overtime and 5-3 in San Diego to take a 2-0 lead, and they believed Wednesday night’s game would be the clincher.
Quinn was so confident he’d be back at the beach Thursday afternoon that he only packed for a two-day trip.
San Diego had won 11 straight games in the opening round of the playoffs and the Steamers had lost eight straight playoff games.
But despite losing, the Steamers had gained confidence in San Diego.
“Playing them out there as well as we did got us up emotionally,” said Steamer Coach Pat McBride.
And despite the early brilliance of the Sockers Wednesday night, the Steamers did not fold.
San Diego led, 2-1, after one quarter, 4-3 at halftime and 6-3 with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Suddenly, with the Sockers having the best of the play, Nebo Bandovic scored the third of his four goals to make it 6-4 at 13:45 of the third quarter.
Thirty-nine seconds later, Daryl Doran scored a power-play goal to make it 6-5.
The Sockers still had the lead, but the Steamers had the momentum and the crowd of 7,841 on their side.
“We had the game won at 6-3,” said a distraught Socker Coach Ron Newman. “They were out for the count, but we gave up some terrible goals.
“They beat us on second and third efforts. We didn’t defend properly. If we were willing to commit ourselves as much as they were, we would have won. Discipline, discipline. Our people were not committed to do that work.”
The Steamers not only outworked the Sockers, but they dominated play throughout the final quarter. They attacked and continually fired away at San Diego goalkeeper Jim Gorsek.
The Sockers, the most prolific offensive club in the history of the MISL, hardly conrolledthe ball during the final 15 minutes.
“We didn’t play our game the last part of the game,” Gorsek said. “We changed our style, and in the end, it hurt.”
Said Quinn: “At 6-5, we kind of went into a shell. I think its beneficial to keep going forward. We can’t be too conservative, but it appeared that we were hoping the clock would run out.”
Give the Steamers some credit.
Quinn scored on a short right-footer to make it 7-5 early in the final quarter; the Steamers quickly regained their momentum.
Forty-seconds after Quinn scored, Bill Stallings put in a rebound to make it 7-6.
Buoyed by several magnificent saves by Steamer goalkeeper Slobo Ilijevski, including a save on a breakaway by Segota, the Steamers were rolling.
And the Sockers continued to drop back defensively.
“We had nobody up front and we were playing too defensive,” said an annoyed Juli Veee, who had stomach trouble and was kept on the bench for much of the second half. “But he’s (Newman) the coach and he had a different opinion.”
Said Bandovic: “San Diego seemed a little confused in the fourth quarter.”
With 6:41 to play in the game, Redmond Lane hit a turnaround right-footer off a loose ball to tie the score at 7-7.
The crowd was going wild and the Steamers could do no wrong.
St. Louis got the game-winner when Bandovic rammed a right-footer from the right wing past Gorsek with 5:17 to play.
Segota almost tied the score on a hard right-footer from the top of the circle with five seconds to play. The shot was wide, the buzzer sounded and the Steamer players, fans and Steamer Heat dancers started celebrating.
As he walked to the locker room, San Diego assistant coach Johan Aarnio said, “It’s good for their franchise.”
And it will give the Sockers a chance to see the arch.