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Dogged Defense Throws Sockers a Scare in 3-2 Loss

May 28, 1987|MARC APPLEMAN | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — Tacoma Star Coach Alan Hinton meant that his team played dogged defense. He compared them to a bunch of aggressive terriers Wednesday night.

And midfielder Juli Veee said the Socker offense was in "chaos" and his team played "frightened" in the first two quarters.

The result was the Stars' 3-2 victory over the Sockers in front of 9,704 fans at the San Diego Sports Arena.

And the Stars could have won by a lot more. Veee said 6-1 would have been more indicative score.

With the victory, the Stars have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Division final and they regain the home-field advantage. Game 4 will be played Saturday at the Sports Arena, but two of the next four games will be played at the Tacoma Dome.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday May 29, 1987 San Diego County Edition Sports Part 3 Page 15 Column 6 Sports Desk 1 inches; 21 words Type of Material: Correction
The notes in Thursday's report of the San Diego Sockers' playoff game incorrectly stated that Socker players were given "win bonuses." None were given.

"We win the home-field advantage," Socker midfielder Branko Segota said, "and give it away. Maybe we are a little looser on the road."

At one time, the Sockers were 26-0 in home playoff games. Now they are 29-3. This season they are 1-2.

"As a team we played much better," said Star forward Steve Zungul, who set up Godfrey Ingram on the game-winning power-play goal at 10:30 of the third quarter. "We played good soccer. We had momentum of the game."

The Sockers agreed.

"That's the best I've seen them play," Socker Coach Ron Newman said. "They deserved to win. They are that much stronger (physically) than us."

The Stars' defense has stifled the Sockers in the past two games. The Sockers scored two first-half goals in a 7-2 loss Sunday. Wednesday, they scored on a shootout by Segota in the first quarter. The shootout was awarded because Zungul was called for dragging down Segota, who was on a breakaway. The Sockers' other goal came on a 30-foot shot by defender Kevin Crow just 30 seconds into the second half.

That was it. The Sockers played with a sixth attacker for the final 4:06 of the game but were unable to score against goalkeeper Mike Dowler, who had eight saves on 26 shots.

"They played a good game," Hinton said, "but they couldn't get the ball in the back of the net. Our defense played a very strong game. Like terriers, we kept poking the ball away. We kept pushing our feet in there and pushing the ball away."

How did the Sockers analyze their problems on offense?

"Our key players tried to take too much of the load," Newman said. "We start to get desperate. Players stayed on the field too long."

The Sockers appeared slow or at least two steps behind the Stars throughout the game.

"They're running," said Veee, who had many chances but was unable to convert any of them. "They build up a lead. For us, the effort has to come from everyone. One guy makes an effort, the other guy watches . . .

"We have to have a little more will to win the game. It's not working. We're not working together. We can't depend on Branko scoring five goals every game."

Zungul agreed that the Sockers may be depending too much on Segota, a friend off the field, but foe whom he continually taunts while on the field.

"The poor guy (Segota) is working up and down," Zungul said. "Tonight, he didn't have those deflections. He missed the shots."

Segota had a team-high seven shots, but many of them were not really good scoring opportunities.

"When you don't create room for each other," Segota said, "you don't get decent chances. They are doing a lot of hard work and they are being rewarded for it."

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