KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Paul Wright took little satisfaction from his first hat trick with the Sockers.
"The most important thing is winning," Wright said after his three-goal performance was wasted in a 5-4, double-overtime loss to the Kansas City Comets on Wednesday night.
"We were winning . . ."
Indeed, the Sockers led 4-2 with four minutes to play when the Comets lifted goalkeeper Mike Dowler in favor of a sixth attacker.
But the Comets tied it with sixth-attacker goals by Dale Mitchell and Barry Wallace and won it on Mitchell's goal 11:10 into the second overtime, ending the third-longest game in the history of both teams.
The victory was Kansas City's fourth in a row and moved the Comets (26-18) into a first-place tie with Baltimore in the Eastern Division.
The Sockers, meanwhile, lost their second consecutive and are 19-23, third in the Western Division.
"I thought we played well," Sockers Coach Ron Newman said. "(Owner) Ron Fowler went in to the locker room (after the game) and said, if we keep playing like that, we'll get results.
"If we had played like that in Wichita (on Saturday), we would have won. Maybe we anticipated an easy game there. Here in Kansas City, we knew it would be tough."
Indeed, while the Sockers have the MISL's worst road record, 5-16, Kansas City has the best home mark, 19-3 and has won 12 in a row at Kemper Arena.
The victory--the fourth consecutive overall and 12th in a row at home--enabled Comets Coach Dave Clements to become the fifth coach in MISL history to win 200 career games.
But it wasn't easy, as 8,044 fans at Kemper Arena might attest after the third-longest game in history for both teams.
"This will stand out as a big one," Clements said. "No question, it was a tremendous performance. Everybody in there made a solid contribution. That's the sort of attitude that makes me feel happy, and the effort's worthwhile."
Trailing 4-2 with 4:10 left in regulation, Clements lifted goalkeeper Mike Dowler in favor of sixth-attacker Kim Roentved. Mitchell hit an un-Mitchell-like, 40-foot bullet from the right side drawing the Comets to 4-3 with 3:48 left in regulation.
"It was almost desperation," Mitchell said. "We couldn't beat Zoltan (Toth) five-on-five because they were packing it in and he was always there. So when we went to the sixth-attacker, we started shooting from outside."
Then, Wallace, who hadn't scored a goal since Feb. 25, collected Jan Goossens' shot off the MISL sign and drilled a left-footed shot past Toth.
Wright was the closest Socker to Wallace.
"He had no angle on that shot," a despondent Wright said.
The scoreless first overtime was dominated by big saves by Dowler and Toth. Late in the second overtime, Dowler made a tough chest save on Jim Gabarra and triggered a counter attack. Mitchell, playing a give-and-go with Jan Goossens, scored the game-winner with a shot from the right side.
"Zoltan made so many great saves," said Dowler, who won his sixth consecutive game, "that there was a fear that if we didn't score in the first five or six minutes, they'd come down and score. But we dug down extra deep."
Wright, in only his fifth game with the Sockers since rejoining them in a trade with Cleveland, scored his third goal with 30 seconds left in the third quarter that made it 4-2.
The game got off to a frenetic start as each team scored in the first 23 seconds. The Sockers led 3-1 at halftime, and all of the first-half scoring occurred in the first 6:12 of the first quarter.
Wright, who had two goals in the half, scored eight seconds in, the quickest goal in Sockers' regular-season history. The old record was 11 seconds by Paul Dougherty on April 17, 1988 against Wichita.
From the kickoff, Wright took a pass from Branko Segota and put a shot through Comets defender Doug Neely and past goalkeeper Mike Dowler.
The Comets retaliated 15 seconds later. Forward David Doyle beat Sockers defender Kevin Crow to a ball in the left corner and centered a pass in front of the net to a wide-open Goossens, who scored his 34th goal of the season from 10 feet out.
The tie was short-lived. San Diego was awarded a shootout 2:28 into the period when Neely was given a two-minute penalty for holding Wright in the penalty area. Segota converted the shootout when he tucked the shot to the right of Dowler for his 24th goal of the season and the Sockers' first successful shootout attempt in three tries this season.