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Baltimore Remains an Unfriendly City for the Sockers, 6-5

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The San Diego Sockers’ quest for their first regular-season victory in Baltimore will have to wait until next season after they blew a two-goal lead in the fourth quarter and lost, 6-5, to the streaking Blast on Friday night.

San Diego led, 5-4, with 1:47 left in the game when Baltimore’s Dave MacKenzie scored a power-play goal to tie it. Mike Stankovic kicked in the game-winner 39 seconds later to give the Blast a 3-0 record against the Sockers this season.

The victory was the eighth in a row for Baltimore, the only city where the Sockers never have won a regular-season game. The only remaining regular-season meeting between the teams will be next month in San Diego.

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“That’s a terrible game to lose,” said the Sockers’ dejected coach, Ron Newman. “This was our game tonight, and we gave two goals away.”

The play that probably cost the Sockers the game occurred when midfielder Jacques Ladouceur was called for tripping as he collided with a Blast player while going for a loose ball. San Diego already had five fouls, and Ladouceur was assessed a two-minute penalty.

Goalie Zoltan Toth made two fine saves in the first minute of the power play, but the Blast inserted MacKenzie as a sixth attacker and, 11 seconds later, he scored from straight away.

“It was a terrible time to make a tackle,” Newman said of Ladouceur’s penalty. “But we had five fouls at that point, and you tell me what fouls you saw.

“That’s not a team controlling the game, that’s somebody else controlling the bloody game. This was our game, it was just our game.”

The Blast took a 2-0 lead midway through the second period, and things looked bleak for San Diego. But Hugo Perez scored off a feed from Branko Segota with 5:23 left in the half.

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The Sockers tied the game at 2 less then three minutes into the second half when Brian Quinn scored off an assist from Fernando Clavijo. However, the Blast regained the lead 50 seconds later on a goal that was credited to Richard Chinapoo but appeared to be kicked in accidentally by San Diego midfielder Jean Willrich.

The Sockers then exploded for three straight goals. Juli Veee scored from the right side midway through the third quarter to make it 3-3; Segota got a nice feed in front of the goal at the end of the quarter for a 4-3 San Diego lead, and Perez kicked in a rebound off the boards midway through the final period to put San Diego up by 5-3. But the lead didn’t hold up.

“It’s a killer when they score with a minute to go,” Newman said of the game-winner. “At least let’s get it into overtime.”

Veee said the Sockers just became unraveled at the end.

“We had the game, but we didn’t keep our cool at the end,” Veee said. “At the end, we had five fouls and we were afraid to make tackles.”

Despite the Sockers’ lack of success in Baltimore--they are 0-9 there in regular-season games--Veee doesn’t believe there’s any jinx.

“We have had bad luck throughout the season, but when we get in the playoffs, we always beat them,” Veee said, citing the Sockers’ only victory in Baltimore, in the 1985 MISL championship series.

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But the loss was still bitter for the Sockers, who fell to 16-13 for the season. The Blast improved to 19-9.

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