After weeks of regular season soccer, the San Diego Sockers are now one step closer to capturing their 15th championship. At 19-3, the Sockers captured the Pacific division with relative ease and will be taking on the Tacoma Stars on the road to begin the Ron Newman Cup Playoffs. The Sockers have swept the season series against the Stars, but anything is possible in the playoffs.
The Sockers have one of the game’s best offenses and they are led by ageless wonder Kraig Chiles. He leads the team in goals (38), assists (17), and points (50). He is flanked by the fleet-footed Brandon Escoto, whose silky footwork has helped him score 18 goals and 34 points. Luan Oliveira has had a respectable 16 goals and 30 points while Matt Clare, after a rough stretch of games, has had a very hot three-game stretch.
The team is also back to nearly full strength, with Erick Tovar finally back after being limited by an injury. Brain Farber had been hurt towards the middle of the season, but he has come back strong in the final third of the season. Their power play has been one of the best in the league, with a 53 percent power play, and they have killed off 75 percent of opposing teams’ power plays. The Socker offense has been en fuego for the entire season and have a wealth of weapons at their disposable, and it has helped them roll to the second-best record in the MASL.
The defense has quietly been one of the best in the league, only allowing 84 goals all season, the lowest rate in the league. While Chiles has been captain of the offense, it is the defensive wizard known as Raymundo Contreras who has been leading the defense. He leads the non-goalie players with 22 blocked shots and has helped structure amazing defensive schemes to keep the other team out of the net.
Contreras has had his fair share of help. Defenders John Sosa and Cesar Cerda have been thorns in the sides of many an opposing side. However, the team boasts the best goalie tandem in Boris Pardo and Chris Toth. Pardo leads the league with a 3.70 Goals Against Average (GAA), while Toth was just behind him in second with a 3.80 GAA. The pair was ranked #2 and #3 in Save Percentage, with Toth at .753 and Pardo at .747, behind William Vanzela of Baltimore. The team’s defense is as steady as an anchor while they have employed two brick walls in the goalie box.
They go up against the Tacoma Stars in the first round and will be paying in Tacoma for the first game. All-star Danny Waltman will be given every chance to make blocks, but he has struggled in his matches against the Sockers. The rivals know each other well as they have played four matches against each other. The Sockers have outscored them 30-13 in the season series and have swept them with a 4-0 record, but don’t be surprised if Tacoma shocks San Diego in the playoffs.
The first match of the series will be available to watch on MASL.TV at 7:35 p.m. today. Game Two of the series will be played at Valley View Casino Center on Saturday, March 10. 7:05 p.m. If the series is tied, the clubs will compete in a 15-minute mini-game ten minutes after the conclusion of Game Two. Playoff tickets are priced at only $20 for reserved seating and $10 for GA opening seating with on-the-house parking. The first 2,000 supporters will also receive a free Playoff Rally towel. Tickets are available now at Sockers.com/Playoff.