SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
The San Diego Sockers (6-0) saw eight different players score goals, as they took down a scrappy Sonora Soles team 8-5, thanks to clutch goalkeeping by Chris Toth and a surge of offense.
The first quarter of play saw both teams off to a fast start on the offense. However, it was Sonora who drew first blood as Erick Rosas blasted the ball right past keeper Toth off a free kick and gave the Soles a 1-0 lead.
This lead wouldn’t last long, as the Sockers were quick to tie the game back up again. Brandon Escoto’s shot bounced off the glass, but it was Eddie Velez who collected the rebound and sent it right past a stunned Carlos Reyes to even the game up 1-1.
The Sockers continued to play fast and Erick Tovar found himself with the ball. After shrugging off a slide tackle, he found Hiram Ruiz isolated against the lone Sole defender. Tovar sent the ball his way, and Ruiz sent a shot right past Velez’ outstretched hands, making the score 2-1 in the Sockers favor.
Sonora shot itself in the foot a few minutes later after Brian Farber tapped the ball away from himself, and a Sole defender tapped the ball backwards for his goalie to scoop up. However, he was nowhere in sight and the ball slowly rolled into the back of the net for a Sockers goal, with credit going to Farber for the goal.
The Sockers found themselves a man down after a questionable call from the referee as Ray Contreras, after making a slide tackle for the ball, was called for tripping Sole striker Alejandro Leyva. Sockers players gathered around the referee and argued his case, but got nowhere, and the Sockers were forced to play a man down while Contreras served two minutes in the penalty box.
Sonora was set to make San Diego pay and had plenty of opportunities to score. As time on the power play dwindled down, Sonara fired a shot that forced Toth to dive to his right. The ensuing rebound shot careened off the boards and a third shot attempt by Franck Tayou was stifled by John Sosa. After the three shots, Contreras bolted out of the penalty box and back into the game as San Diego killed the power play. Sosa would pick up an assist on a free kick thanks to Matt Clare tapping his pass into the net, and the score was 4-1 after one quarter of play.
Clare made his presence felt on both offense and defense by playing physically on both sides, and Toth stayed alert in the goal, rejecting shots left and right. However, neither could stop Toyou in the middle of the goal, and his shot went right over the head of a diving Toth, cutting the Sockers’ lead in half 4-2.
Both teams then partook in taking turns jostling for control of the ball. Contreras continued to play a strong defense and pestered many a Sole striker. Unfortunately, the Sockers would lose Clare to a yellow card after Clare told the referee off for not making a call on a kick to his shin. As Clare continued to argue, the referee sentenced him to a five minute penalty in the box with the card to boot for what was officially listed as a “delay of game violation”.
While the Sockers were able to continue their plan minus Clare, the San Diego bench started to nervously sweat in the final seconds as Contreras was handed a foul right in the box, and set Sonara up for a penalty kick. A wall of San Diego defenders kept the Soles out of the box and the score remained 4-2 going into the half.
The third quarter began with Sosa getting a blue card penalty for kicking. Sonora’s power play was quickly killed off by San Diego and almost immediately after, the Sockers got their own power play after Victor Hiros got a blue card for a charge. San Diego cashed in immediately with the tried and true combo that is Clare and Kraig Chiles. Clare sent a pass through the middle and Chiles timed his slide perfectly, poking the ball right into the corner of the net to give San Diego a three-goal advantage.
Three goals would be scored in a little more than a minute in what could only be described as a flurry of offense. Sonora’s Enrique Cáñez began the onslaught by tapping the ball into the net after Toth got crossed up with a defender. Brandon Escoto was next and added some flourish to his goal after Velez blocked Ze Roberto’s shot, sending the ricocheted ball right back where it came from with a stylish sideways bicycle kick. Daniel Lopez would finish the scoring by shooting a perfectly placed ball right past a diving Toth. After the dust settled, the scoreboard showed 6-4 lead in favor of San Diego.
The scoring didn’t stop in the fourth quarter as Toyou placed the ball right into the top left corner of the net to make the score 6-5. The Sockers were quick to respond with a goal of their own, as Felipe Gonzales sent a pass right through the wickets that were Roberto Escalante’s legs to Tovar, who was in the perfect place at the perfect time. With the goalie fooled on the pass, Tovar rocketed the ball right into the net to enhance San Diego’s lead to 7-5.
After this, both teams began to play like a group of madmen, each sprinting after each other and fighting for the ball. Sonora, desperate to score, began their six-man offense with three minutes left. The man they put in was a familiar one, as former Socker Victor Quiroz was entered into the game. Quiroz was quickly thrown into the fire as the Sockers started to take long potshots toward the goal that Quiroz was forced to scamper after. Luis Ortega then started to charge towards the goal with Quiroz right on top of him. Some tricky footwork led to Quiroz’ feet getting slightly tangled, and a well-timed pass to Cesar Cerde gave Ortega an assist on the ensuing goal, and this final score was the final dagger in the heart as San Diego put this game to bed 8-5
Clare said after the game that he still felt the after effects of the kick to his knee after the game, and was given the card after telling the referee to pay more attention to the game. Clare said of his offense that “everybody at any moment can score on this team” but added that “we take a lot of pride in defending, not only individually, but collectively as a team”.
The Sockers have some time to rest as their next game will be against the Turlock Express at Valley View Casino Center Sunday, December 17 at 5:05 PM. Fans won’t want to miss this games event as it will be Star Wars Night, and the first 2,000 fans to arrive will get free Lightsaber Bam-Bam Sticks. The parking, valued at $15, will be free for all who arrive as the Sockers will be picking up the tab on parking. If you can’t attend the game, feel free to visit the official MASL YouTube page at MASLtv to watch the game streamed live on YouTube.