After all the kicking, scratching, shoving and biting, Socker forward Damir Haramina did something he hasn't done very often, allowing the Sockers to do something they haven't done very often.
Haramina's 25-footer 1:58 seconds into overtime gave the Sockers a 4-3 victory over the Wichita Wings Friday night at the San Diego Sports Arena.
The Sockers have defeated Wichita (25-26) just twice this season in seven tries. Haramina has scored just seven goals, two of them Friday. And it was his first game-winner, which felt pretty good for a guy who has spent a whole season trying to recover from a tender left hamstring.
"I feel great," Haramina said. "I just need to get some games in."
This was pleasing to the eyes of Socker Coach Ron Newman, who watched his team get into countless scuffles with the Wings and survive both a two-goal deficit and overtime, both of which had been problems for the Sockers.
"I'm excited about the win," he said. "It showed that we can regroup, we can control ourselves, we can regain our confidence, and we can come back."
This was an essential victory for the Sockers (24-27), who again pulled even with St. Louis in the Western Division. A Socker victory over Tacoma tonight, coupled with a Storm loss to Dallas, will give the Sockers the home-field advantage for the teams' five-game playoff.
Wichita took a 1-0 lead 9:39 into the game on a goal by defender Gregg Willin. It was actually Socker defender Arturo Velazco who nicked the ball with his foot and sent it by goalie Zoltan Toth, who started his third game in a row for the second time this season.
Before the first quarter ended, the Sockers executed a nifty exchange on a Wichita power play to tie it. Midfielder Brian Quinn knocked a pass back from the midfield line to defender Ralph Black, then took off and got behind the Wings' defense. Black hit him with a perfect pass at the other end, and Quinn sent it to the left of goalie Ron Fearon from 30 feet.
Then came the second quarter. Wichita took a 3-1 lead on a scrappy penalty box shot by defender Terry Rowe and a power-play goal by forward Andy Chapman. Sixteen seconds before Chapman's goal, Socker defender Kevin Crow was assisted off the field after receiving a knee to the head from Fearon, who collided with Crow in a tussle for the ball. Crow returned to the bench in the second half but didn't play.
That left the Sockers, who were also without Cacho (left knee strain), with a truly makeshift defensive unit of Velazco and Jim Gabarra, a forward. The group responded well, holding the Wings without a goal in the second half.
The fights came along in the third quarter. First, Black raised his foot a bit too high for Wing midfielder David Byrne's liking, and Byrne gave him a shove. Black shoved back, and Quinn came running over to make the tackle. Boom. Credit Quinn with the sack and two minutes in the penalty box along with Byrne for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Before the quarter ended, Socker forward Paul Wright got two minutes for doing a one-step tap dance on midfielder Dale Ervine's head. Also receiving two-minute penalties in the quarter were Willin (unsportsmanlike conduct) and Rowe (holding).
In the brief interludes between fights, the Sockers managed two goals to tie it. First, Haramina took a pass from forward Rod Castro and drilled it into the right corner from 35 feet. Then midfielder Waad Hirmez followed Fearon's deflection of a Quinn shot from the left of the goal mouth with his left foot. Both were power-play goals.
The Sockers have placed veteran forward Steve Zungul and defender Don Cogsville on the disabled list, which will require them to miss a minimum of five games. Cogsville underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Thursday, and the Sockers have been advised not to allow Zungul to play again because of his arthritic hips. MISL rules allow teams to sign one player to a 15-day contract for every two on the disabled list. Socker President Ron Cady said either Ron Newman or assistant Erich Geyer will likely go scouting next week to look at several players in the American Indoor Soccer Assn.