It was something the Sockers hadn’t encountered in a long time. But, as Raphael Cox’s shot went through the legs of Boris Pardo, the scoreboard didn’t lie. Four minutes into the second quarter and the Sockers were down 4-0.
The Tacoma Stars had struck fast, and they struck early. The first quarter saw veteran Phillip Lund sneak a shot past Pardo for the first goal. Minutes later, Vince McClusky maneuvered around a Sockers defender, bounced a pass off the wall to himself and scored, deking out Pardo at the same time. A rebounded hit from Nick Perera made the score 3-0 at the end of the first quarter.
San Diego didn’t get much help from the referees either. Multiple Sockers’ tumbled to the ground with no whistles, but when a Socker seemingly breathed on a Tacoma player too hard, a whistle was blown. A prime example was Taylor Bond who, after being on the receiving end of a few shoves, gave one out on his own trying to play a ball. The blue card was out almost immediately and, just after Bond went to the penalty box, Brian Farber questioned as to why Bond got hit with the card when the Stars avoided it. The referee took offense to the questioning and sentenced Farber with a yellow card.
It was Bond’s blue card that set up the Cox power-play goal to set up the 4-goal deficit, and the Sockers finally had enough. A crisp shot from Kraig Chiles put San Diego on the board and set up a six-goal rampage. Luis Ortega and Brandon Escoto scored back-to-back goals in the 13th minute of the second quarter and, just as the time was about to hit 0:00 on the scoreboard, Ze Roberto’s shot bounced off the chest of Farber, and rattled around the box, but didn’t go into the net.
Farber didn’t just give up on the play; he finished it. With Danny Waltman away from his box, all Farber had to do was hop into the air to head the ball in to tie the game up at four goals apiece just before the half expired.
The beginning of the third quarter was Leonardo De Oliviera’s time to shine. The talented striker hit his mark with two Tacoma defenders on him, then seconds later, he tricked out a sliding Waltman by chipping the ball over him and watching it roll into the back of the net. A 6-4 lead was the result of De Oliviera’s goal.
The final quarter represented a brutal boxing match between two heated rivals. First, Micheal Ramos broke the Sockers’ scoring streak with his goal in the 5th minute of the quarter. Landon Donovan responded in kind, scrambling to secure a free kick and tapping in the shot and the goal, only for Ramos to score his second goal of the quarter in response.
With six attackers for Tacoma at the 11th minute, captain Chiles delivered the insurance policy goal to boost the lead to two goals, which was needed since Tacoma scored again in the final minute of play, this time courtesy of Perera. There would be no golden goal for the Stars tonight, however, as a final defensive stand put the pesky Stars away for good with a final score of 8-7.
The game was the closest the Sockers have played in recent memory, but good teams find a way to win, and San Diego is a good team. The Sockers have won their 20th game this season and their 18th in a row.