The Lazers began their sixth Major Indoor Soccer League season Saturday afternoon against the Tacoma Stars with only three players remaining from last year's squad, a fact which at least in part explains a similar result.
After a closely-played first half, the Stars took advantage of the Lazers' lack of consistent teamwork and beat them, 6-3, before an announced Forum crowd of 4,417.
"It was very disappointing," Lazer Coach Keith Tozer said. "I saw things I didn't see in the preseason . . . inexcusable mistakes."
What Tozer also saw was a Tacoma team which was clearly superior in all aspects of the game, one which was able to maintain its composure and give Coach Alan Hinton his 10th victory in 11 games against the Lazers. Tacoma was 0-5 in road openers before Saturday's victory.
The Lazers, after battling back from a 3-0 deficit--which included a Tacoma goal with the Lazers playing with a two-man advantage--to make it 3-2 at halftime, began the second half with some momentum. The Lazers' two first half goals were scored by Thompson Usiyan and Zoran Savic. But, they didn't have what it takes to gain the upper hand against a Tacoma defense which includes four of the league's top ten shot-blockers.
"One of the positive things was that we were able to come back time and time again," Tozer said.
After Steve Pecher was assesed a two-minute penalty for boarding early in the third period, the Stars took advantage of the power-play as Godfrey Ingram blasted a shot past Lazer goalkeeper David Brcic, making it 4-2, Tacoma.
Jim Gabarra then scored his first goal as a Lazer 8:30 into the period and the Lazers had come back for the last time, closing the gap to 4-3.
From then on, the Lazers began to crumble defensively and stumble on offense.
Fourth quarter goals by Ingram, who had two on the day, and Steve Zungul secured the Stars' first win of the season. They lost their opener to Dallas.
For the Lazers, who play again next Friday night against the Kansas City Comets, Tozer plans to shake things up.
"I'm going to have to wait and see who can play and who can't," he said. "I might make some changes."
New acquisition Chico Borja, who scored 51 goals last season with the Wichita Wings, was held scoreless and goalkeeper Brcic, according to Tozer, "didn't have one of his better games." Brcic finished with 14 saves, having faced 25 shots. Tacoma goalkeeper Mike Dowler made 15 saves while facing 28 shots.
Said Hinton: "(The Lazers) have a few problems right now, but they have some very talented players. Unfortunately they had to open against the Tacoma Stars."