The San Diego Sockers (16-9) played yet another tight match with the Florida Tropics (9-9), this time sweating out a one-goal win thanks to late heroics by Brandon Escoto and last minute save by goalkeeper Chris Toth. The Sockers, with their win today, closed the two-game road trip and have all but eliminated the Tropics from playoff contention.
Toth was immediately put to the test in the first quarter of play with quick shots, but those were quickly caught or pushed away, with one such shot actually getting past Toth, but bouncing off the inside crossbar and back into the field of play. The Sockers had chances of their own, but a reset from the top of the box and a corner kick failed to find the back of the net.
The Sockers would break open the scoring after Anthony Medina’s pass to the middle of the Tropics’ box was redirected by Brian Farber into the top left corner of the goal and gave San Diego their first lead. Ricardinho Cavalcante would respond to this with a goal of his own, taking his own blocked shot, sliding the ball to his left and poke the ball into an open net that was left that way after Toth couldn’t secure the ball on the ground and span the wrong way.
Before the quarter was over, John Sosa would be given a yellow card for dissent after the referee didn’t appreciate the arguing Sosa was conducting after a collision resulted in a reset for the Tropics. The Sockers would end the first quarter with a 1-1 tie, but would have one of their better defender’s in the penalty box.
Farber would miss a shot off a redirect pass in the beginning of the second quarter, but he would get another chance after the Tropics’ defense failed to pick him up in the middle of the box and, after a pass from Hiram Ruiz that rocketed off the boards and right into the waiting right foot of Farber. Farber wouldn’t miss this time and slip the shot right past Florida keeper Piotr Silwa to give San Diego a lead.
The Sockers would continue their offensive flurry, this time with Matt Clare passing to Chad Hagerty on a 2v1 and Hagerty taking care of business, hitting a ground ball shot that went right past the diving hands of Silwa to give the Sockers a two goal advantage.
The game would go back and forth in the quarter after the two goals, but the result remained the same throughout thanks to clutch defense from San Diego and a few saves from Toth. Both teams would get a power play opportunity after Cavalcante and Cesar Cerda were both given blue cards for tripping each other up, but the teams would go into the half with the score 3-1 in favor of San Diego.
The third quarter of action saw the Sockers grab another goal early thanks to the great instincts of Hiram Ruiz. After Oliveira passed the ball to him in the middle of the box off a corner kick, the ball rebounded off of the right knee of Ruiz and somehow squirted into the net and past Silwa for a San Diego goal.
The teams would exchange power play opportunities with neither succeeding. The Sockers were the first to be hit with a blue card after Chiles was sent to the box for a charging penalty. Shortly after it was killed off by San Diego, Ty Hall of the Tropics was caught for tripping and spent two minutes of his own in the penalty box. This power play would be killed of as well.
However, the Tropics would get a goal of their own after a long shot by Guilherme Dos Santos seared past Toth and into the back of the net. Dos Santos would get into trouble with the referees after getting called for a minor penalty for boarding thanks to the contact he made with Oliveira against the board. After questioning the referee as to whether it was the right call, Dos Santos let his emotions get the better of him and started questioning a little too hard, resulting in a yellow card and five minutes in the box. San Diego would have a power play opportunity in the fourth quarter as they led 4-2.
San Diego began the final quarter of play by using the same tactics they did in the game before; keep the ball away from the opposing players while playing a conservative style. However, Mauricio Salles was able to break through the Sockers defense and shoot the ball right past Toth to make the Tropics down by only one.
The conservative tactic worked for a majority of the quarter still and even got the Sockers a blue card penalty after Mauricio Salles was penalized for holding. But with a minute left in the game and time ticking, it was Anthony Arico who was able to get the slip on Toth and nail a shot past him to tie it up.
Just as it seemed like the game was going to overtime, Escoto became the hero of the game by hitting a shot from the top right corner of the field. The ball sailed over the head off Sliwa and Escoto tore off his shirt and ran don the field in celebration. The Tropics would go for one last-ditch effort with a sixth attacker, but Toth and the defense killed off any hopes of a comeback, and the Sockers squeaked out a 5-4 win.
San Diego plays two of their last three matches at home beginning next Saturday, February 24, 7:05 at Valley View Casino Center versus Rio Grande Valley. This game was rescheduled twice, so tickets that were issued or purchased for February 2nd or 22nd will be honored. It will be $2 Bud Light Night, and the first 2,000 Supporters will receive a free pair of Sockers Sunglasses. The game will be live streamed on the MASL’s YouTube page at MASL.tv and parking is free as always.