Kraig Chiles' Golden Goal Beats Ontario 7-6

Kraig Chiles scored from the middle of the box on a Landon Donovan wall assist 1:43 into golden-goal overtime as the San Diego Sockers scored the final three goals unanswered, scrambling for a 7-6 win on Sunday night at Pechanga Arena San Diego. A crowd of 4.517 saw the Sockers (16-1) win their fourteenth in a row, improving to 4-0 in overtime this year.

The game-winning goal came via a Brandon Escoto distribution into the attacking right corner, putting Donovan under pressure near the wall. Sensing two defenders around him, Donovan poked the ball off the goal wall into the middle of the penalty area to a sliding Chiles, who was able to drag the ball into the net for his second of the night and 21st goal of the year, his fifth game-winner this season.

“We knew that possession was going to pay off,” Chiles remarked after the game, “We knew they were short-handed, the sixth attacker goal was big time for us, and once we got to overtime we were pretty confident.”

The Fury (8-11) lost their third in a row, falling to 1-5 in overtime this season and 2-8 in matches decided by one or two goals. Maicon de Abreu and Andy Reyes each netted twice in the losing cause for Ontario.

For the third time in as many home matches against the Fury this year, the Sockers found themselves trailing in the first quarter. Reyes’ first tally of the night off a defensive breakdown and low 2-on-1 made it 1-0 Ontario at 3:29, and then San Diego keeper Boris Pardo made a rare physical error, allowing Jeff Hughes’ second-chance roller at 7:43 bounce between his legs for a 2-0 disadvantage.

The Sockers answered back behind the creative pressure of forward Leonardo De Oliveira. The Brazilian target fed a perfect through ball to Donovan late in the quarter, only to see his bid strike the left post and out. Leo tracked down the loose ball on the right wall, working to the middle before cutting his right-footed shot low to back post for a 2-1 score at 10:53. The score held at 2-1 Fury after the first period.

San Diego dominated possession in the second quarter but struggled to beat Ontario keeper Chris Toth (20 saves), who very much resembled the two-time MASL goalkeeper of the year in the first half. In the waning seconds of the half, Ray Contreras of the Sockers bent a forward pass to Travis Pittman, who struck with the right foot first time, smashing a ball over Toth’s shoulder with 6.9 seconds remaining in the half to knot the score 2-2.

A wild third frame saw San Diego take their first lead of the night on Cesar Cerda’s wicked volley from the right wing into the left-side netting, only to then concede twice on set pieces by Maicon de Abreu and Evan McNeley, restoring a 4-3 Fury lead at 11:34 of the quarter. On their first power play of the night, the Sockers tied the score on Donovan’s left-footed strike through the corner netting on an Escoto assist. Escoto saw his eight-match goal scoring streak come to an end but contributed three assists.

Unmarked on the back post, de Abreu’s second tap-in of the night put Ontario on top 5-4 at 14:15 of the third quarter; and Andy Reyes’ brilliant bending shot past Pardo on a 2-on-1 3:07 into the fourth quarter put the Fury ahead 6-4.

San Diego’s comeback began with a bit of fortune, as the Fury were flagged for too many men on the field and levied a blue card penalty with 11:18 remaining in the match. Escoto crossed the box with a pass to Chiles on the left wing, who rolled home his 20th goal of the season at 4:45 to draw the Sockers within one. After Ontario’s DeBray Hollimon missed a hot pass to an open back post in the closing minutes that could have iced the result, San Diego pulled Pardo in favor of Hiram “Pollo” Ruiz as the sixth attacker.

Battling for the game-tying goal, the Sockers pressed in the attacking third. Escoto’s high cross pass looked destined for the stands but tickled the top of the glass and stayed in play, nudged by Donovan to Leo on the left wing. The Brazilian’s skipping shot deflected off the leg of de Abreu and past Toth at 12:48 for the equalizer, sending the Sockers bench into exultation.

Minutes later, Donovan was proving his skill as a pupil with a “wallascora” on the game-winning golden goal.

“That has been probably the hardest adjustment, offensively and defensively, I can’t figure out where the ball’s going off the boards,” said a chuckling Donovan after the match, “Kraig Chiles is a goal-scoring machine, and I just had a feeling that if I put it anywhere in the right place he was going to get there, and he did all the work.”

The Sockers improved to 5-0 against the Fury, despite needing to come from behind in all three of their meetings in San Diego. The two clubs will lock boots one more time on April 4 in Ontario.

San Diego concludes a three-match homestand on Friday when they welcome the Dallas Sidekicks to town for a 7:35 p.m. kickoff. Call 866-799-4625 for tickets withiout service fees.