The San Diego Sockers will be kicking themselves repeatedly for what could’ve been, as they fell to the Monterrey Flash 6-4 Sunday evening, in a match that San Diego could’ve won handily had it not been for the numerous missed opportunities the offense had in front of the goal. Much like the Washington Capitals of the NHL, San Diego can’t seem to advance past the second round of the playoffs, as this is the third year in a row that they have been eliminated in the Conference Finals.
The game began with both teams acting as aggressively as possible trying to get the upper hand. Monterrey would get the early upper hand in the match after Damien Garcia blasted a free kick past starting goalkeeper Boris Pardo to give Monterrey their first lead of the day.
San Diego would have many opportunities to score and take the lead, but all were blown either by bad luck or bad aim, hitting the post or crossbar on countless occasions. With 24 seconds left in the game, Kraig Chiles was able to break the string and tap a pass from Brandon Escoto into the back of the net and past Flash goalkeeper Diego Reynoso to tie the game up for the Sockers. The score would be 1-1 after the first quarter.
After getting away with dragging Escoto down to the ground, Martin Moreno passed the ball off to Edgar Gonzalez, who snuck the ball past Pardo to give Monterrey the lead back. San Diego would miss even more chances, including one right in front of an open net. The hole would be dug deeper after Carlos Farias scored after Pardo fell to the ground making a save.
A little late quarter magic brought the Sockers back to within one after Hiram Ruiz collected a rebounded shot and fired it back into the net to make the score 3-2. The Sockers would keep the score this way until the end of the quarter, although they could’ve had the lead had it not been for the misfires and bad bounces that went their way.
The third quarter began with a solid defensive stop by John Sosa. After said stop, Luan Oliveira collected a pass from Cesar Cerda and blasted a shot past Reynoso, momentarily tying the game. The tie wouldn’t last long as Gonzales would find the back of the net for the second time to kill any momentum San Diego had.
Ten minutes later, Omar Santillan was able to slip past San Diego’s defense and hit a shot past Pardo to increase Monterrey’s lead to two goals, with the score being 5-3 after three quarters of play.
San Diego would get a glimmer of hope in the beginning of the fourth quarter thanks to Erick Tovar’s goal in the first minute. But as time ticked down, the Sockers were getting more and more desperate as their shots either missed or were hit directly at Reynoso, who even stopped a shot with his own face at one point. San Diego would eventually pull Pardo out and insert Sosa as the sixth attacker.
This did little to solve San Diego’s offensive woes as, despite the constant peppering of Monterrey’s goal with shots, none of them would go in. The Sockers’ fate was sealed after an errant pass by Ray Contrerras set up Brayan Aguilar perfectly in front of an open net, and he scored perhaps the easiest goal in his career. This was the dagger that finished San Diego off, and the 14-time champions were eliminated from the playoffs.
The Sockers will stew on what could’ve been as they look forward to next season to try to get that elusive 15th championship. Until then, they will watch as Monterrey take on the Baltimore Blast in the championship.