SAN DIEGO — It almost appeared the Sockers wanted to be out at the stadium for the Charger game Sunday night.
At any rate, they sure were in a hurry to finish their game with the Wichita Wings, jumping out to a three-goal lead five minutes into the game en route to a victory, 8-2, in front of 4,698 at the Sports Arena, the second smallest crowd in six home games this year.
Team officials cited the Chargers game as a reason for the small crowd.
No matter, the few who did come to the Arena knew they weren't watching a Charger game--the home team was completing too many passes.
"Overall we played better tonight than we did against Cleveland (Friday in a 9-5 victory)," said midfielder Brian Quinn, who scored two goals and assisted on another. "Our passing was a lot crisper tonight."
The Sockers also got some clutch play from goalkeeper Victor Nogueira, who started for the 12th time this season. He leads the Major Soccer League in starts and is the only goalkeeper in the league to have started every game this season.
"Victor Nogueira had a great game in goal," said Kris Peat, Wings goalkeeper. "We had a lot of chances but couldn't finish them because of Victor. That just gave the Sockers more confidence."
Nogueira came in with a 5.75 goals-against average. He reduced it to 5.44 by allowing just two goals, the fewest he has allowed this year.
He also made 18 saves to bring his league-leading total to 153.
But it wasn't only Nogueira who was doing well. The young defenders in front of him, particularly rookies Alex Golovnia and David Banks, suddenly have learned to adjust to the more physical indoor game.
"We know we can score goals," Newman said. "We're comfortable with that. But we've been uncomfortable with the goals we were giving up."
It took the Sockers only two minutes and 20 seconds to start connecting.
That's when Waad Hirmez took a pass from Kevin Crow to the left of the penalty area, banked it off the corner boards and left-footed the carom high into the right side of the net.
With the goal, Hirmez kept two streaks going. He now has scored at least a point in 11 of 12 games, including eight consecutive. Hirmez has also netted a goal in five consecutive games.
More than two minutes later Quinn and Banks hooked up on a corner kick and duplicated a goal on which the two combined in Friday's 9-5 victory over Cleveland.
Quinn, as he did Friday, simply sent the corner kick across the goal mouth to Banks, who merely let it bounce off his right instep.
With the assist, Quinn moved passed Steve Zungul and into fourth on the Sockers all-time scoring list with 254 points.
It was also the sixth consecutive game in which Quinn has scored a point.
Roughly 30 seconds later, Wichita goalie Peat was sitting on the carpet again, the result of the Sockers' third goal.
This one came on a power play with Rod Castro finishing a pass from Paul Dougherty. It was the fourth consecutive power play on which the Sockers have scored. They are now nine of 11 on power plays at home.
The goal also marked the first time this year the once-potent Sockers have scored three goals in one quarter.
Wichita attempted to come back in the third quarter, scoring twice. However the Sockers answered both scores with goals.
Chico Moreira took away Nogueira's shutout bid by getting behind the goalie five minutes into the period and redirecting a shot from Danny Pena.
Then Quinn went to work, scoring two goals in the span of 19 seconds. The first came as he redirected a Dougherty shot. The second came after he lured Peat out of the goal by taking a long through pass from Jacques Ladouceur in the penalty area, then slipping a soft shot to the right of the sliding goalie.
So it was already 5-1 by the time Dale Ervine, who was booed each time he touched the ball, got a shot past Nogueira, thanks in large part to Chico Borja, who bowled over the Socker goalie.
It only got worse for Wichita. The Sockers got their sixth goal on a shootout (taken by Ben Collins) after Jimmy McGeough was called for holding in the penalty area.
Later, Wes Wade and Jim Gabarra worked a give and go fastbreak to score the Sockers first short-handed goal of the year, Gabarra taking the shot after the two had passed the ball three times.
Then with less than a minute remaining, Paul Wright went out on a one-man fastbreak and beat Wichita's sixth-attacker goalie, Victor Moreland, for the final score.
The Sockers string of power-play goals came to an end midway through the second quarter when they failed to score after Danny Pena went off for throwing a hip check at Socker goalie Victor Nogueira. . . . With his two goals and assist on the night, Quinn moved past Dougherty as the team leader with 17 points.