In breaking a six-game losing streak by defeating Kansas City, 5-3, Friday night at Kemper Arena, the Sockers also won on a number of fronts:
- Against referees Bill Maxwell and Joe Manfre. Comet goalkeeper Ed Gettemeier had a big argument when Raffaele Ruotolo knocked the ball out of his hands and scored to give San Diego its first lead in 13 days, 10:21 into the second quarter.
Ruotolo sneaked up from behind and kicked the ball as Gettemeier was searching for outlets upfield. Gettemeier wanted a foul at the least. At the most, and most likely, Gettemeier said, it should have been a two-minute penalty call for unsportsmanlike conduct and a yellow warning card.
"That's an automatic card for crying out loud," an upset Gettemeier said. "So the guy kicks it out of my hand. He admits that. (Ruotolo did.) That broke our momentum. They weren't even hinting at scoring a goal.
"They're going to look awful dumb if they get a two-minute penalty. It could have been a two-goal difference."
That might have been the key play that got the Sockers' offense--12 goals in the past games--off and sputtering. It wasn't much better Friday, but it was enough. While the Comets were buzzing around outshooting San Diego, 45-18, the Sockers (26-24) scored two of their other goals on a penalty kick and a sixth-attacker goal by Juli Veee.
"Give them credit for two goals," Gettemeier added.
- In the playoff race. It's fourth place now for the Comets, one-half game behind the third-place Sockers. The Comets (25-24) can't sink any lower. They clinched at least a fourth-place playoff spot last month. But the Comets, 2-6 since clinching that spot, would end up playing division-champion Tacoma in the first round of the playoffs if they remain in fourth.
The Sockers, with only two games remaining on the schedule, are in a fight for second. They trail second-place Wichita, a 5-4 winner over Tacoma Friday, by one game. One of the remaining games is against the Wings Wednesday in San Diego.
One of the better offensive nights of the season for Kansas City was wasted. The Comets threw everything at goalkeepers Zoltan Toth and Jim Gorsek and came away with a frustrating loss. Toth, never a loser in eight career decisions against the Comets, left the game with bruised ribs in the second quarter. Enter Gorsek, 0-3 this season against Kansas City, for the relief victory.
"A lot of their game is still good but that little touch isn't there," Socker Coach Ron Newman said. "I see a little bit of frustration creeping in. We're well aware of their ability. We should have punished them a little bit more."
The first half featured 23 Comet shots to seven for San Diego. It also featured Toth making several spectacular saves before he left. Cha Cha Namdar sent the Comets to the locker room with their heads further bent. He took Njego Pesa's rebound off the glass and beat Gettemeier with just 58 seconds remaining in the half to make it 3-1 San Diego.
Louie Nanchoff scored a power play goal 6:53 into the third quarter to cut the 3-1 halftime lead to 3-2. The Comets poured on the pressure but couldn't gain a tie. "We needed to win so badly," Newman said. "It lifted our spirits."