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Sockers’ ‘No-Goal Patrol’ Unit Comes Through : Defenders Killed All but One Penalty, and Killed Title Hopes for the Strikers

Times Staff Writer

Don’t dare take the Sockers verbatim all the time.

If you are an indoor soccer fan, you’ve heard of the Sockers’ “No-Goal Patrol” penalty-killing unit.

Well, the No-Goal Patrol allowed one goal in Monday night’s Major Indoor Soccer League championship game.

And that goal was no big deal.

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The goals Minnesota didn’t score on its power plays were the difference as San Diego won, 5-3.

In the first half, the Strikers had four power-play opportunities. They scored on one and trailed at halftime, 2-1. Minnesota did not have another power play until the final 19 seconds.

“When the Sockers killed power plays early on, it got momentum going for them,” Minnesota forward Alan Willey said. “If we had scored on more of them, the game might have turned out better for us.”

Minnesota’s power play had been much more effective in the first six games of the series. The Strikers had converted 10 of 23 power plays before Monday.

However, on power play No. 24, Minnesota felt a sign of things to come. Brian Quinn, the series MVP, blocked five shots in that situation.

“The first few games, we weren’t getting in the way of their shots,” Quinn said. “I’m just fortunate the ball hit me tonight. I didn’t mind putting my body out for the last game.”

When the Sockers led midway through the first quarter, 1-0, Fernando Clavijo put his foot out at the last instant to save a goal.

Goalkeeper Jim Gorsek had come out of the net because Minnesota had a two-on-one break. Minnesota’s Jan Goossens had a shot into an apparent empty net, but a hustling Clavijo stuck out his right foot to save the goal.

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“I was marking my man when they had a one-on-two,” Clavijo said. “It didn’t do me any good to mark my man when Jimmy (Gorsek) came out. I went to the goalline and was waiting for them to take a shot. We got lucky there.”

Perhaps the Sockers were more than lucky. They blocked 23 shots, 17 more than Minnesota. Quinn had seven blocks and Kevin Crow had five.

Gorsek made 20 saves, nine more than counterpart Tino Lettieri.

“When the team plays well in front of me like they did tonight, it makes me play that much better,” Gorsek said. “I have to play as well as everybody else is playing. The game could have gone either way if the defense didn’t block a lot of shots.”

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In the end, the defense had trouble blocking shots. Minnesota had fourth-quarter goals by Mike Jeffries at 9:35 and Thompson Usiyan at 10:53, pulling to within 5-3.

After that, the Socker defense regained its earlier form. Gorsek made a key hand save on Jeffries with 2:40 remaining, spoiling Minnesota’s best opportunity to come within one goal.

In the end, the No-Goal Patrol was given another call. The Sockers received a bench penalty for six fouls with 19 seconds remaining, and the No-Goal Patrol again lived up to its name.

Somehow, there was something appropriate about the Sockers’ finishing the season killing a penalty.

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“The No-Goal Patrol did great,” Coach Ron Newman said. “They’ve had a lot of practice this year, haven’t they?”

This time, Newman had to be taken at his word. ONE FOR THE THUMB

Year League Opponent 1981-82 North American Soccer League Tampa Bay 1982-83 Major Indoor Soccer League Baltimore 1983-84 North American Soccer League N.Y. Cosmos 1984-85 Major Indoor Soccer League Baltimore 1985-86 Major Indoor Soccer League Minnesota


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