Segota, Zungul Kick Life Back Into Sockers
A couple of rare sights this season, Branko Segota and goals in bunches, were spotted at the Sports Arena Saturday night just in time to lift the sagging spirits of a team not used to slumbering.
The Sockers, off to the worst start in their indoor history through 10 games, pulled themselves out of the Major Indoor Soccer League cellar with an 8-6 victory over the Kansas City Comets in front of 6,360 fans. It brought back memories of the way things used to be.
Segota, out of action since injuring a hamstring in the season opener Nov. 5, returned and scored two goals, one a masterpiece that began a four-goal Socker outburst in the second quarter.
The Sockers hadn’t scored three goals in a quarter all season, let alone four.
In the fourth quarter, there were more surprises. First, Brian Quinn scored to snap a 5-5 tie with 8:21 remaining, unusual because for most of this season it has been the Sockers (4-7) who have buckled in tight games.
Then Steve Zungul turned back the pages to his younger days, scoring two goals. That was surprising because it gave him three for the night, his first hat trick in a Sockers’ uniform since Jan. 28, 1986.
Segota and Zungul, who hadn’t played together since Feb. 5, 1986, were in sync all night, and Segota even assisted on two of Zungul’s goals.
“You never seem to lose that feel for each other,” Segota said. “When we’re in the box in front of the goal, we both seem to know where each other is going to be.”
Said Coach Ron Newman: “It was great to see some of the interplay out there between the boys. We haven’t seen the bing-bing one-touch play like that in a long time.”
Not coincidentally, Segota hadn’t played in a long time. But he made his presence felt quickly.
He scored on a 50-foot shot late in the first quarter to tie the game, 1-1, then scored early in the second quarter in brilliant fashion to put the Sockers ahead, 2-1.
With the Sockers playing short-handed, Gus Mokalis started the play with a pass from midfield to the glass in the corner, right of the Kansas City goal.
Segota collected the ball on one bounce and, using only his right foot, passed the ball off the glass to himself and past bewildered Comets’ goalkeeper Alan Mayer.
The ball hadn’t hit the floor by the time Segota touched it a second time, and he was able to score easily into a net Mayer was lured into vacating.
“In that spot, it (passing the ball to himself) was the only play I could make,” Segota said.
Mayer disagreed: “Actually, I didn’t think there was any way he could make that play. You just have to give him credit.”
Segota’s goal was only the 29th scored by the Sockers this season, a league low, but three more were soon to follow.
Kevin Crow scored off a pass from Ralph Black, Zoran Karic scored off a pass from Cacho, and Zungul scored off a pass from Quinn during a 4-minute span to give the Sockers a 5-3 halftime lead.
Kansas City, which fell to 4-8 and took last place away from the Sockers, fought back to tie at 5-5 on a pair of goals by Dale Mitchell, who also finished the night with a hat trick.
But the Comets can give up goals as fast, and a lot of times faster, than they can score them. They have now allowed more goals (62) than any other team in the league. Going into the game, then, it figured the Sockers might be able to snap out of their season-long slump.
After the game, Sockers’ owner Ron Fowler approached Segota in the locker room to offer his congratulations:
“It’s nice to have you back, Turkey,” Fowler said.
“Hey,” Segota responded. “Turkey day is over. It’s Christmas.”
And Segota was the bearer of many good gifts Saturday night.
The Sockers had killed 13 consecutive penalties until David Doyle scored during a Kansas City power play late in the first quarter. Doyle was standing alone at the left of the Sockers’ goal when Stan Cummins dribbled around Brian Quinn and fed him a perfect pass. Socker goalkeeper Zoltan Toth had no chance to stop Doyle, who was only a foot away. It was the first MISL power play goal for Doyle, the league’s rookie of the year last season. The Sockers hadn’t allowed a power-play goal since Nov. 23, a span of six games. Baltimore killed off 17 penalties in a row 2 years ago to set the league record. The Sockers also gave up a power-play goal the second time they were short-handed Saturday. Dale Mitchell scored it for the Comets early in the second quarter. . . . Saturday’s game was the third consecutive Sockers’ home game in which the loser dropped to last in the MISL standings. The Sockers beat Wichita, 4-2, Dec. 3 to drop the Wings into the cellar, and Tacoma beat the Sockers, 4-3, Nov. 27 to put the Sockers in last.