Force Is With The Sockers In 8-7 Win Over Sonora

Brian Farber scored twice in the final five minutes of the match, as the San Diego Sockers held off a determined upset attempt from Soles de Sonora, emerging with an 8-7 win on Sunday night at Pechanga Arena San Diego. A Star Wars Night crowd of 2,907 saw San Diego score five goals in the fourth, overcoming a 4-3 deficit to pull out their sixth straight win.

Slavisa Ubiparipovic added his team-leading seventh and eighth goals of the season, also contributing an assist as the Sockers (6-1) survived Sonora’s mid-match four-goal run to post their second victory over the visitors from Hermosillo, Mexico.

“We came out of the locker room (after halftime) just lethargic, slow, and we needed something to pick us up,” said Ubiparipovic after the match, “It’s a home game, we can’t lose home games, and we’re not going to accept that."

The Sockers survived a night that started with top midfielder Hiram “Pollo” Ruiz on the bench due to a leg strain, and then saw captain Kraig Chiles (hamstring) pull up after taking only one shift in the first quarter. Defender Luis “Peewee” Ortega strained a hamstring in the fourth quarter, and midfielder Brandon Escoto took a hard hit in the final second of the match, being shoved head-and-shoulder-first into the boards.

Despite all the bumps and bruises, San Diego found a way to outlast a Soles team (2-5) that had won the night before in Ontario, and pushed the Sockers to the limit on Sunday.

“We’re a great team because we play together,” said Ubiparipovic, “If one player is out or not having a good game, the next player steps up.”

A match that seemed to be tight and tactical in the first thirty minutes changed drastically in terms of its composure in the second half, as twelve goals were scored between the two sides. San Diego took a 1-0 lead in the first quarter on Leonardo de Oliveira’s fifth goal of the season, set up perfectly on the wing by Brandon Escoto at 9:03 of the quarter. Taylor Bond’s back-post tap-in on a Cesar Cerda assist made it 2-0 4:09 into the second frame.

The match, to this point seemingly in the Sockers’ hands, began to slip from their grasp in unusual fashion, as San Diego went on the power play up 2-0 with 5:40 remaining in the half. Not only did the Sockers not convert on their man advantage, they saw Soles score short-handed, as midfielder Gustavo Rosales lifted a perfect curving pass out of the defensive zone which found Enrique Cañez (hat trick, assist) rushing in on starting keeper Boris Pardo one-on-one. Cañez finished left-footed for his 8th goal of the season, drawing Sonora back within one at a 2-1 score at 10:48 of the second quarter.

Soles picked up a power play with 40 seconds remaining in the half, as former Soles defender Raymundo Contreras was sent to the penalty box on a blue card penalty for tripping. While San Diego did not concede before halftime, the intermission brought a coaching decision from the San Diego bench, as head coach Phil Salvagio sat Pardo in favor of backup keeper Diego Arriaga.

The choice, admitted by Salvagio to have been made the day prior, backfired quickly and emphatically, as Soles scored right after their power play ended to open the half. Cañez twisted home a wicked left-footed strike from a sharp angle in the left corner, making it 2-2 at the 2:17 mark of the third.

Arriaga’s rough entry into the match was capped at the 8:16 mark, as an errant touch outside the crease gave the ball to Alejandro Leyva for an empty-net finish and a 4-2 advantage. Pardo was returned to the net for the remainder of the match, making four saves en route to his fifth win of the season (5-1).

The San Diego comeback began on a centering pass from the left wall to Ubiparipovic from Cesar Cerda. Slavisa’s smooth left-footed finish narrowed the lead to 4-3 Sonora at the 12:11 mark of the third period, and increased Cerda’s team-leading assist count to seven on the season.

The wild fourth quarter saw San Diego score five times and concede thrice. Leo finished a set piece from the top of the arc on a Ubiparipovic pass to make it 4-4. Slav’s power-play goal from Luis “Peewee” Ortega gave the Sockers a 5-4 lead 5:19 into the quarter. Just thirteen seconds later, Erick Tovar found an arcing forward pass from Contreras and converted it into his first goal in two seasons, good for a 6-4 lead at 5:32.

The visitors from Sonora were not close to being finished, however. Leyva and Cañez each netted in the next five minutes, with Cañez’s hat trick score on an inch-perfect cross from Rosales made it a 6-6 score at 10:14.

What happened next could only be described as lucky for San Diego, and highly unfortunate for Soles. Brian Farber sent a pass across the face of goal, where it ricocheted not once but twice off the leg of Sonora’s Jesus Alberto Avendaño, who essentially walked an own goal into his net. The Sockers led 7-6 at the 10:57 mark.

With Sonora pulling keeper Angel Rubalcava with 2:32 remaining for a sixth attacker, San Diego used a veteran combination to score what turned out to be the game-winner. Pardo’s long throw-out connected to a racing Farber, who extended his right leg on the run to make a difficult touch, redirecting the ball into the empty net at 12:51 for an 8-6 lead. The goal would prove critical when Sonora’s Adrian Miller struck a wicked volley off the crossbar and in with 40 seconds remaining in the match for the final 8-7 score.

The game ended in a physical dispute between the two clubs after Escoto was boarded head-first with 0.02 seconds remaining. Sonora’s Ivan Acuña was shown a straight red card for his serious foul. Players left the bench to push and shove, and the final tenths of a second were wiped off the final timeline.

San Diego regroups for another Sunday showdown in the New Year, as they prepare to welcome in the Ontario Fury for a 5:05pm kickoff at Pechanga Arena San Diego next week. Tickets are available for “Retro Night”, with the Sockers wearing their 1989-90 white retro kits, at or by phone at (866) 799-GOAL.