The Sockers rode into town with a six-pack of successive victories under their belt, so pardon them if they were a little drunk on the successes.
The Tacoma Stars, reeling themselves with a four-game losing streak, seized the opportunity and posted an 8-4 victory.
Tacoma (14-12) logged its first victory this season in four attempts against the Sockers (15-11) and knocked them into a first-place tie with St. Louis in the Major Soccer League West.
And the Stars did it by outplaying the Sockers, flatter than yesterday’s beer, in all aspects--passing, shooting and defense.
“We were flat,” Sockers Coach Ron Newman said. “We traveled on the day of the game, and we don’t like that. But I’m not sure that had much to do with it.
“But I could sense it in the dressing room before the game. We’ve been on a hot streak. Tacoma was the opposite. I told the lads they’d come out firing. I think we were resting on our laurels a bit.”
Stars Coach Keith Weller liked what he saw.
“This was the way we played earlier this season,” he said. “I hope this is the turnaround. This was the team to beat--the best team in the league.”
Tacoma, powered by two goals and an assist by rookie Shawn Medved and a pair of goals each by Greg Ion and Eddie Radwanski, struck for three goals early in the third period for a 5-1 lead.
The Sockers countered quickly with an unassisted goal by Branko Segota at 7:08, but Tacoma came back 13 seconds later when Freddie Thompson scored.
In the fourth quarter, with the Sockers using six attackers, Stars goalie Chris Vaccaro turned a routine save into a goal when he heaved a 180-foot throw into the net to make it 7-2. It was the sixth goal of Vaccaro’s career, an MSL record.
Tacoma led 2-1 at halftime.
The Sockers scored at 1:05--Paul Wright from point-blank range on a pass from Waad Hirmez. But after coming up empty on a power play, the Sockers allowed Tacoma two second-quarter goals, one each by Steve Kinsey and Ion.
“I thought after the first half,” Newman said, “when we stunk up the joint and were only down 2-1, that we had a chance. But Tacoma came out believing they could play again. They put together a few good balls and some good shots, and they thought they could do it all the time.”