The San Diego Sockers (13-3) clinched their second consecutive MASL Pacific Division title by beating the Tacoma Stars (8-10) with a score of 10-3 on the strength of a hat trick by Kraig Chiles and two-goal games by Brandon Escoto, Erick Tovar, and Brian Farber.
San Diego showcased amazing defense in the first period and shut down Tacoma every time they came down the field. However, Tacoma’s man-to-man defense had trouble keeping up with the speedy San Diego strikers, as was the case when they failed to catch up to a streaking Farber, who collected a rebounded shot from Felipe Gonzales and zipped it right past goalkeeper Danny Waltman, making the score 1-0.
Tacoma would try to tie it up in the period, but were unable to even get a shot off, and even when they could, goalkeeper Boris Pardo was there to block any and all attempts. Their best opportunity came on a free kick, but Pardo blocked the shot from the side and turned the Stars away as the score would remain 1-0 after one period of play.
While the first period began with a Farber goal, the second period also began with a Farber goal as Escoto passed him the ball and Farber did a neat slide to poke the ball right past Waltman. Tovar would cash in a minute later, as he was left unattended on a corner kick and was given the ball by Luan Oliveira, and Tovar shot a missile into the top left corner of the box to give San Diego a 3-0 advantage.
The defensive breakdown of the Stars would continue as John Sosa and Escoto utilized some nifty passing for Escoto to score a goal from the middle of the box. After Escoto got tripped up on the pitch, the Sockers got a power play opportunity and immediately made good on it, with Chiles sniping a shot from the yellow line past the hands of Waltman.
The Stars would finally get on the board when Taylor Bond broke away from a defender and hit his own rebounded shot past Pardo to score. Chiles would score again with 20 seconds left in the period and the Sockers would take a 6-1 advantage into the half.
The Sockers began the third period on a power play thanks to an Evan McNeley blue card and took advantage for the second straight time. This time, it was Tovar snapping a pass to Oliveira to cross up Waltman and score with the advantage. Tovar would collect his own goal as well after maneuvering past the defense and whipping a shot past Waltman, making the score 8-1.
After a questionable call where Pardo got a blue card after getting slammed into by Joey Gjertsen, Tacamo had a power play opportunity and Jamael Cox made the most of it, hitting a shot into the top right corner of the box where Pardo couldn’t stop it from going in, making the score 8-2.
At the end of the period, Chiles and McNeley, in combination with multiple calls from the referees for small things, started jawing at each other after a physical foul which resulted in a yellow card for dissent that was handed to Gjertsen for dissent. This would be how the period would end, with a score of 8-2.
Tacoma would utilize a six-man attack for a majority of the period and were able to strike first thanks to a chip shot from Bond. This would be the only point they would score in the period, but thanks to excellent defending by interim goalie Troy Peterson, the Stars were able to keep San Diego at bay for a short spell.
Despite the six-man offense, the Stars couldn’t get any more momentum going and allowed two more goals to Chiles and Escoto. Despite more pushing and shoving from the teams, the game ended with no fights breaking out and San Diego mercifully put Tacoma out of their misery by running out the clock and ending the game with a 10-3 victory.
San Diego plays Sonora on Sunday, February 11, 5:05 p.m. at Valley View Casino Center. The match will feature the annual Alumni Halftime Game, and it is also Sockers Car Book Drive Night. Fans who donate five new or gently-used books before the game receive a free ticket voucher for the February 24th game. The game will also be streamed live on YouTube at the official MASL page at MASL.tv. Playoff tickets for the Divisional Championship series will be going on sale February 25, so be sure to get them early to watch the Sockers go for championship number 15.