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Defense Can’t Keep the Sockers In Check : Soccer: Ladouceur scores the winning goal in overtime as the Sockers defeat Baltimore, 4-3.

From Staff and Wire Reports

The word is out: To beat the Sockers you have to nullify their speed by falling back into a defensive shell.

Note to the Major Soccer League: It doesn’t always work.

Baltimore used the strategy Sunday afternoon in front of 6,907 at the Arena and despite taking a three-goal lead into the fourth quarter, the Blast lost, 4-3, in overtime.

Jacques Ladouceur scored the winning goal 1 minute, 36 seconds into overtime after redirecting the rebound of a shot by former Blast player Tim Wittman.

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“It was amazing, really,” Socker Coach Ron Newman said about the clinching shot, taken at the top of the penalty area. “The ball had not sat down for us right all night. It always seemed to land at our player’s left foot, but he was right-footed. Or it would land at the right foot of our left-footed players. But (the rebound of Wittman’s shot) seemed to fall right on Jacques’ shooting foot. Jacques was making a diagonal run and he just hammered it. It whistled into the net.”

It was Ladouceur’s 12th goal of the season, tying his previous career best. He also netted 12 goals in 1989-90. Ladouceur played in all 52 games that season. This season is only 15 games old and Ladouceur has contributed at least a point in 10 of the past 12.

What’s more, the Sockers (9-6) already have played 10 on the road, where they are 6-4. The schedule balances out over the next 25 games, 15 of which the Sockers will play at the Sports Arena.

“I was very nervous at the beginning of the season,” Newman said about the schedule. “I thought after the new year we could be in a lot of trouble.”

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Although that’s not the case, the Sockers find themselves in the midst of a ferocious fight for first place in the seven-team MSL.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us to catch Wichita and Dallas,” Newman said. “They just keep winning.”

Wichita (10-5) has remained first since overtaking the Sockers on Dec. 8. Dallas (11-6) is only percentage points out of first after winning its third game in four nights on Sunday, 7-6, over Tacoma in overtime.

The Sockers’ first opportunity to chip away at the two teams ahead of them in the standings comes Friday when they play host to Dallas. It is one of four games the Sockers have remaining against the Sidekicks. The Sockers play Wichita five more times.

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Sunday’s victory came only after the Sockers were able to break through Baltimore’s defensive shell and tie the game with three fourth-quarter goals, the final coming from Paul Dougherty with a minute remaining and a minute after Newman pulled goalie Victor Nogueira in favor of a sixth-attacker.

With the tying goal, Dougherty extended his team-high point streak to 10 games.

It was the first time this season the Sockers have been shut out in the first three quarters.

Ben Collins and Paul Wright scored before Dougherty. Collins and Wright also had one assist each in the quarter. Wright has 15 goals and three assists in the past seven games.

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Baltimore (8-10) took a 3-0 lead on first half goals from Joe Koziol, Domenic Mobilio and Koziol.


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