The Sockers spent the past week traveling through the freezing Midwest, and the Lazers spent it practicing at home in Los Angeles.
The Sockers were weary and the Lazers well-rested Saturday night.
So what happened at the San Diego Sports Arena?
The first-place Sockers, who seemed to get stronger instead of more tired, scored eight second-half goals--four in each quarter--to defeat the Lazers, 9-4, in front of a season-high crowd of 10,400.
The Sockers (16-6) have won four games in five nights, and 9 of their last 11, and they lead the Lazers (10-9) and Tacoma (11-10) by 4 1/2 games in the Western Division of the Major Indoor Soccer League. The loss snapped the Lazers' five-game road winning streak.
Branko Segota, who missed Friday's game with a groin strain, scored a hat trick, and Waad Hirmez and Paul Dougherty had two goals apiece and Kevin Crow and Keder one goal each for the Sockers. Chico Borja, Chris Whyte, Thompson Usiyan and Mark Frederickson scored for the Lazers.
The Sockers' victory was the culmination of a long day that started with a flight from Minnesota that arrived in San Diego at 2 p.m. The Sockers beat the Sting in Chicago Tuesday, the Steamers in St. Louis Wednesday and the Strikers in Minnesota Friday.
"We've got to play," Segota said. "What will you do? You might as well die now. You have two days to rest."
The Lazers had not played since they lost to St. Louis at home last Sunday night.
Saturday, Los Angeles led, 2-0, after a quarter on goals by Borja and Whyte. Hirmez scored in the second quarter to make it 2-1 at halftime.
The Sockers outshot the Lazers, 18-6, in the first half but didn't start cashing in on their chances until the third quarter, when they scored four times to take a 5-3 lead.
Keder scored on a right-footer from the left wing just 14 seconds into the second half to tie the score at 2. Segota made it 3-2 on a right-footer off a restart at 6:27. It was Segota's 300th career goal in the MISL, placing him third behind forward Steve Zungul (606 goals) and Fred Grgurev (331 goals) on the all-time list.
Crow was credited with his first goal of the season when his pass went off Lazer midfielder Cha Cha Namdar and bounced in to make it 4-2. Seven seconds later, Usiyan scored to make it 4-3. Hirmez scored with 1:10 left in the quarter to make it 5-3.
"In the first half, we weren't playing the way we did when we won three games on the road," Socker midfielder Brian Quinn said. "In the second half, we were winning balls and releasing quickly. We had to involve everyone and create space."
They did. After Frederickson scored a short-handed goal at 2:48 of the fourth quarter to make it 5-4, the Sockers ran off four more consecutive goals. Dougherty combined with forward Zoran Karic on a picture-perfect power-play to make it 6-4 at 3:21. It was the Sockers' first power-play goal in their last 16 attempts.
Dougherty scored on another power play to make it 7-4 at 10:52, and Segota added two goals in the final two minutes to make it 9-4.
Preliminary reports indicate that Keder will be out 10 days to two weeks with a bruised bone on his left shin. Keder was tackled by defender Erhardt Kapp during the third quarter and missed the rest of the game . . . Midfielder Hugo Perez said he is disappointed in the Sockers' latest contract proposal, and team president Ron Cady said the two sides are "miles apart" when it comes to compensation. Perez, who becomes a free agent June 30, is earning approximately $110,000 a season and is the second-highest paid player on the team, behind Branko Segota, who's making around $180,000.