No Branko Segota. No Hugo Perez. No Keder. No Zoran Karic.
The Sockers were playing without four of their six leading regular-season scorers Wednesday night against the Tacoma Stars at the Tacoma Dome. They were missing players who had accounted for 120 goals and 76 assists.
San Diego needed a big game from midfielder Brian Quinn, but late in the first half, all Quinn had was two penalties, and the Sockers trailed by two goals.
But the Sockers killed off three straight penalties, and Quinn and Juli Veee scored in the final four minutes of the first half to tie the score at halftime.
And after a scoreless third quarter, the Sockers scored five times in the fourth quarter to win, 7-2, in front of only 6,961 in the Tacoma Dome.
The Sockers lead the best-of-five Western Division semifinals 2-1, with Game 4 at the Tacoma Dome Friday night. The winner of this series will face the Kansas City Comets, who completed a three-game sweep over the Lazers with a 7-5 win Wednesday.
The hero for the Sockers Wednesday was Quinn, who finished with three goals and two assists.
"It was difficult to see how we'd score," Quinn said. "We needed someone to take over."
Said Star midfielder Ricky Davis: "There was a rumor circulating in the locker room that Brian Quinn was determined to try and redeem himself. He is the type of player that can lift a team."
Quinn, who suffered through an injury-riddled season, and Brian Schmetzer scored within an 18-second span from 5:36 to 5:54 to make it 4-2 in the fourth quarter.
"At 4-2, it was finished," Veee said.
Quinn completed a hat trick moments later.
With the Stars playing with a sixth attacker in place of goalkeeper Mike Dowler, the Sockers added goals by Waad Hirmez and Jacques Ladouceur.
Hirmez had a goal and three assists. Goalkeeper Zoltan Toth rebounded from a shaky start to make 16 saves on 28 shots. The Sockers killed three of four penalties, and killed them at a key point in the game.
San Diego trailed, 2-0, when it killed three straight penalties.
"That was the key to keeping the game close," said Socker defender Kevin Crow. "Before the game, we talked about how if we came in and things started going against us early, we weren't going to get down."
Right after the third penalty was killed, Quinn scored at 11:21 and Veee scored with 32 seconds left in the half to tie the score at halftime.
"It was so important it was 2-2 at halftime," Socker Coach Ron Newman said. "We knew we had a team (Tacoma) shaking in their dressing room."
The Sockers--who also had to still be shocked from Monday's news that the team had filed for Chapter 11 under the bankruptcy code--had regained their confidence. They had also halted Tacoma's momentum from the Stars' early success Wednesday and their come-from-behind 4-3 overtime win Saturday night in San Diego.
While the Stars came out strong Wednesday, the Sockers were struggling with a makeshift lineup.
"During warmups, I said where are the forwards," Toth said.
Once the game started, Tacoma wasted little time taking a 1-0 lead on a left-footer from the top of the arc by forward Peter Ward at 2:47.
With the Sockers penalized for six fouls in the quarter, the Stars got a big break and a goal on the power play. When Toth tried to sidefoot the ball to the right, midfielder Ralph Black surprised Toth and deflected Toth's attempted pass right into the goal.
"The last time that happened was when I was playing junior soccer in the 1960s," said Toth, who was 3-0 during the regular season against the Stars and is now 2-0 in the playoffs.
The Sockers were fortunate that a shot by Davis went into the goal a second after the horn sounded ending the first quarter.
The Sockers still trailed, 2-0, when Quinn--all alone on the right side in the penalty area--took a pass from Hirmez and one-touched it into the net. At 14:28, Veee tied the score on a tap-in.
On the game-winner, Quinn bent a 30-footer with the top of his toe from the left wing in the lower far corner of the goal.
Said Newman: "I'm just so happy we've guaranteed another pay day for Mr. (Ron) Fowler and his crew."
If a fifth game against Tacoma is necessary, it will be played on Saturday night May 7 at the San Diego Sports Arena at 7:35 instead of Wednesday, May 4 as had been announced. . . . Socker President Ron Cady said Wednesday there have been no overtures from potential investors or buyers since the Sockers' announcement Monday that they had filed for Chapter 11 under the bankruptcy code and were looking for new money. "We're developing our game plans," Cady said. "I think it will be lay back this week to see what happens in the playoffs. It hasn't surprised me (that potential new investors have yet to come forward)." . . . Star forward Steve Zungul, who missed Game 2 with a pulled right calf, played sparingly Wednesday.