TACOMA, Wash. — The Sockers finally picked up a victory Sunday on the last game of this four-game trip, but if you believe Socker Coach Ron Newman, this is one they didn't deserve.
"It was amazing, really," said Newman after a 6-4 victory over the Tacoma Stars (14-21) snapped a three-game losing streak. "We probably deserved to win the last two games with Tacoma, but not this one.
"Isn't it strange? All of a sudden, the goals are coming for us. Out of the blue. At the right time. We weren't quite on our game, and it worked out. This was a mystery game, this one."
What was not a mystery was the outstanding game turned in by Socker goalie Zoltan Toth, who made 17 saves, many of which were of acrobatic caliber.
That helped the Sockers (14-18) exact a bit of revenge on Keith Weller, who left his assistant position with the Sockers Dec. 5 to take over as Tacoma's coach and has since returned with the Stars to defeat the Sockers twice at the San Diego Sports Arena.
"It's the same old story," said Weller, whose team has now lost seven of its past eight. "Missed chances and mistakes have cost us."
With the victory, the Sockers remain in third place in the Western Division, 5 1/2 games behind first-place Dallas and a game-and-a-half ahead of Tacoma.
"What are you going to do?" asked Kia, Tacoma's high-scoring forward, who was turned away repeatedly by Toth. "He was making saves with his face, with his feet. You look back and you think, 'If I put a couple of those in, it could have been a different game.' "
Tacoma fought back from a 4-1 deficit to 4-3 before the Sockers, who played without injured midfielder Brian Quinn, put it away with a freaky goal and a nicely executed three-on-two break. Branko Segota got the freaky goal, the second strange one of the game for the Sockers, by bouncing a free kick from the circle off of Kia's leg and the crossbar at 2:04 of the fourth quarter.
Zoran Karic scored the fast-break goal at 8:20 after Jacques Ladouceur stripped Tacoma's Brent Goulet and started it with a nice pass.
"We're still playing a little nervous," said Newman. "When they came back a couple of goals, we didn't look like the same team. That's the nature of the game, when you're struggling near the bottom. You make things worse for yourself. We couldn't afford to lose this one."