Sockers' Win String Now Eight

Times Staff Writer

Paul Dougherty needs to buy another pair of size 4 1/2 soccer shoes, but he is in no rush as long as he can glue the ripped seams of his old ones together.

And as long as the 5-foot 2-inch Socker midfielder continues to score at this pace.

"These are my lucky shoes," Dougherty said. "It must be the glue that is doing it."

Dougherty had two goals and an assist in the Sockers' 6-3 victory over the St. Louis Steamers in front of 10,209 fans at the San Diego Sports Arena Saturday night.

Branko Segota scored a hat trick while barely breaking a sweat in the Sockers' eighth consecutive victory. San Diego had not won eight in a row since a string of 13 in 1985-86. And the Sockers' 20-6 start ties their best ever, also in 1985-86.

One of the big contributors has been Dougherty.

In his previous home game, Dougherty had four goals and an assist in a 10-3 victory over Tacoma Jan. 15. He added a goal and an assist at Los Angeles last Wednesday. For the season, Dougherty is the team's second-leading scorer with 21 goals and 10 assists for 31 points.

"All this scoring is really surprising me," Dougherty said. "If you told me at this time last season that I'd get this many goals all this season, I'd have been happy.

"A lot has to do with confidence. You score goals, you relax."

And you forget about your ripped shoes.

Dougherty repaired them with glue at halftime of the Tacoma game and scored three goals in the second half. He wore them against the Lazers and again against St. Louis, although he finally found a backup pair before Saturday's game.

"They don't do my size in decent shoes," Dougherty said. "They do them in kiddie sizes. Loads of shops don't have them."

None of his teammates wears anything that small. Then defender Brian Schmetzer came to the rescue.

No, Schmetzer doesn't use size 4 1/2. Neither does his 20-month-old daughter, Daniella. But his wife, Theresa, just happens to wear the exact size and make Dougherty does.

"I had them just in case," Dougherty said. "But I didn't even think about wearing them."

He was too busy, first scoring on a right-footer off a long pass by Waad Hirmez to give the Sockers a 1-0 lead at 5:30 of the first quarter.

Hirmez's assist made it 12 consecutive games in which he has scored at least a point. He has 14 goals and 14 assists for 28 points.

"There has been tremendous improvement this year with Waad and Paul," Socker Coach Ron Newman said. "They are producing much more than we could have expected."

In addition to the goals by Segota and Dougherty, defender Fernando Clavijo added a goal and Brian Quinn had two assists.

Goalkeeper Zoltan Toth needed to make just six saves on 15 shots to improve his record to 10-3 and keep his league-leading goals-against average at 2.87.

The Sockers' only home loss this season was 4-2 to St. Louis on Jan.2. On Saturday, San Diego never trailed. The Sockers led 2-1 after one quarter, 3-2 at halftime and 4-2 after three quarters.

Segota added two fourth-quarter goals and now has 32 and a league-leading five hat tricks.

Poli Garcia scored twice and Gerry Gray once for St. Louis.

"We didn't play as well as we can," Newman said. "It was a workmanlike game. A run-of-the-mill game. But look at the result."

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