Sockers Rally for 8-5 Win : San Diego Opens MISL Finals Friday Against Minnesota

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Times Staff Writer

As Socker midfielder Jean Willrich says in the team’s “One For The Thumb” video, it was “unbelievable.”

On their way to an amazing come-from-behind 8-5 victory against the Tacoma Stars Wednesday night, the Sockers scored four goals within a span of 4 minutes and 59 seconds at the start of the fourth quarter to turn a 5-2 deficit into a 6-5 lead.

Brian Quinn scored two goals and Juli Veee had one to tie the score at 5-5.

Defender Brian Schmetzer, who became a father Tuesday, scored his first goal of the playoffs on a left-footed blast from the left wing to give the Sockers a 6-5 lead.


And the game.

With the Stars playing with six attackers and no goalkeeper, Fernando Clavijo and Jacques Ladouceur added goals in the final two minutes to make it 8-5. The six goals scored by the Sockers in the final quarter tied a Major Indoor Soccer League playoff record held by five other teams.

With the victory, San Diego wins the best-of-five MISL Western Division final series, 3-1.

The Sockers will host Minnesota in the opening game of the championship series at 7:35 Friday night at the San Diego Sports Arena.

“That was the greatest rally in our club’s history,” Socker Coach Ron Newman said. “They upset us. There was some kicking, and we were getting feisty and angry.

“Little Quinny (Quinn) got angry and played like he had a big ‘S’ on his chest. He got everyone inspired.”

And then some.

“We had nothing to lose at the start of the fourth quarter,” midfielder Veee said. “They got greedy at 5-2 on the power play. Instead of being patient, they let us turn the game around.”

After three quarters, a team record 19,476 fans at the Tacoma Dome saw the Stars race to a 5-2 lead. The score was tied at 2-2 after a quarter, the Stars led 3-2 at halftime, and Steve Sharp and Preki scored to give the Stars a 5-2 lead entering the final quarter.


The Stars had the momentum, and they were 19-0 in games in which they led after the third quarter. A decisive fifth game seemed a near certainty.

But wait.

“Some players were probably thinking the game is over when it’s 5-2,” Star forward Steve Zungul said. “Some got casual and we paid the price for it. . . . We paid the price for inexperience.”

Just as the third quarter came to a close, Socker midfielder Branko Segota ran into Star goalkeeper Peter Mowlik. Up to that point, Mowlik was brilliant and the Sockers were dead.

Suddenly, the most prolific offense in the history of the MISL exploded. And Mowlik was shell-shocked.

With the Sockers playing shorthanded at the start of the final quarter, Quinn scored from the top of the penalty box to cut the Tacoma lead to 5-3 after 29 seconds.

“When we got to 5-3, I felt we were on our way,” Newman said.

Forty-seven seconds after the shorthanded goal, Quinn scored off a give-and-go from Veee to make it 5-4.


“At 5-4 the game was in our hands,” Veee said.

The record crowd was getting quieter and quieter.

At 3:55, Kevin Crow threaded the needle to Veee, who lined a 20-foot right-footer past Mowlik to tie the game at 5-all.

The Stars appeared stunned.

San Diego took the lead for good when Schmetzer blasted a 15-footer from the left wing at 4:59.

“I sure got a good shot off,” Schmetzer said.

During their rally, the Sockers played without their leading scorer. Segota pulled a calf muscle and barely played in the final quarter.

However, the Sockers outshot the Stars 16-6 in the final quarter and played like a team that was possessed.

“That was a very good comeback that showed character,” Willrich said. “Sometimes we are like the Raiders. We have to get more angry in order to play better.”

It was unbelievable.

Socker Notes Ron Fowler, one of the Sockers’ limited partners, on Bob Bell’s presentation at the Tuesday afternoon meeting that resulted in a vote of confidence for the managing general partner: “Bob was almost statesman-like in his presentation. He wasn’t a salesman up there. He was honest and candid in terms of assessing the team’s strengths and weaknesses. I was most impressed.” Fowler, in the past, has been very critical of the Sockers’ front office operation. When asked about his presentation, Bell said: “It wasn’t magic. The meeting cleared the air. It’s the first time we really went over the pieces of the puzzle one at a time.” . . . Best barb of the week came during the ongoing war of words between Socker Coach Ron Newman and Star Coach Alan Hinton: “I think Alan is affected by old age and senility at this point. When I get to be his age, I’ll probably be just as confused as he is now.” Newman is 52 years old and Hinton is 43. . . . Brian Schmetzer’s wife, Theresa, gave birth to a daughter, Daniela, on Tuesday.