Quakes Have That Playoff Feeling

Pat Frizzell
Date Published: 
Oakland Tribune

SAN JOSE — Paul Child, suddenly discovering the goal-mouth open, yelled.

Leroy DeLeon didn't hear amid the Spartan Stadium din. But as things developed, it didn't matter.

"Out of the corner of my eye," DeLeon said, "I saw a red shirt. So I passed to Paul."

With goalie Peter Fox out too far, Child blasted the ball from 12 yards out into the net for a 1-0 Earthquake triumph over Hawaii before 19,150 last night.

Twenty-three minutes remained after this electrifying moment, but goalie Mike Hewitt and San Jose's No Goal Patrol clamped down.

"Now I feel certain we'll finish third and get into the playoffs," said DeLeon. "We know we can beat Dallas here Saturday.

"We should have scored more goals. That's all right. We'll save those for the playoffs. The way we've played lately, I don't think any team in the North American Soccer League can beat us."

The Quakes now are third in the Southern Division, four points ahead of Hawaii and eight above Las Vegas, which still has a mathematical chance.

If Hawaii loses in Seattle Thursday night, it's all over for the Island team. Same for Las Vegas if it loses at home to Dallas tomorrow.

Whatever the others do, the Quakes will clinch a playoff spot if they beat Dallas here Saturday night.

Aggressive all through the hot evening, San Jose fired 33 shots to Hawaii's 16. DeLeon, Child and powerful Allan Birchenall all came close while the Quakes' eighth capacity-crowd of the year groaned.

"We should have had four or five goals," Child asserted. "That Fox is just a kid, but he's good.

"DeLeon did some great ball handling. On the goal I scored, I thought he'd lost the ball after I passed it to him in the first place. Then he dribbled around a guy and got it back to me."

It was DeLeon's 10th assist, a Quake record. And Child's 12th goal. And Hewitt's eighth shutout.

"I had a couple of tough times in the first half," said San Jose's Scottish goalie candidly. "But Hawaii seemed to get frustrated in the second half. I had it easier."