Match Report // Defense Falters In Chihuahua, 8-6
CHIHUAHUA, MX - Adriano Nunez scored two goals with an assist and Carlos “Poper” Hernandez added a goal and assist, as the defending Ron Newman Cup champion Chihuahua Savage beat the San Diego Sockers 8-6 on Friday night at Corner Sport Arena in Chihuahua. The Savage (7-5) beat the Sockers for the second time this season, clinching the season series with one match left to play.
San Diego took leads of 1-0 and 3-1 but succumbed under the weight of five goals conceded in the second quarter, including a critical short-handed goal in the final minute of the first half. The Sockers (11-2, 32 points) got within 5-4 on Leonardo de Oliveira’s hat trick goal, but saw the Savage score the next three goals to build an 8-4 lead and control the match.
Chihuahua’s dominant lead was trimmed on goals by Brandon Escoto and Kraig Chiles at 9:05 and 10:43 of the fourth quarter. Chiles netted a goal with two assists, improving to 692 career points in the PASL and MASL. San Diego pulled their keeper Xavier Snaer-Williams for a sixth attacker but could not further pressure the net, and a late blue card penalty ended any hope of a comeback.
The Sockers got the start to the match they wanted, combining rock-solid defense with an early goal. On a restart from the left wall after a foul, Kraig Chiles sent a pass into the middle of the crease to Leonardo de Oliveira, who had boxed out his defender with back-to-net. Leo controlled the ball and then measured a perfect surprise, a backheel goal that caught the defense unaware and snuck inside the post for a 1-0 lead at 5:54. San Diego blocked five shots during a scoreless frame and lead by one going to the second quarter.
A harbinger of things to come came quickly, as Chihuahua scored just eight seconds into the second quarter on an Enrique Cañez goal for a 1-1 tie. The Sockers reestablished the lead once again on a set piece, as Chiles found Leo on left wing for a clean look and a second goal at 2:49 for a 2-1 lead. Less than a minute later, midfielder Luis “Tortín” Perez recovered a loose ball along the Savage goal wall and squirted a wall pass off a Chihuahua defender and into the net for his first goal of the season and a 3-1 lead at 4:55.
After holding their shape for almost 25 minutes, things started to unravel for the San Diego defense as the second quarter wore on. José Gilberto Lopez took advantage of a bouncing ball that Xavier Snaer-Williams couldn’t handle along the goal wall, getting a pass out of a scrum from Poper Hernandez for a point-blank goal at 4:55, narrowing the lead to 3-2. Given a power play after Leo got an elbow up high for a blue card, Poper recovered a bouncing ball out front and slotted his fourth goal of the season, knotting the score 3-3 at 9:59.
Savage captain Bryan “Flaco” Macias deflected in the go-ahead goal on a Adriano Nunes shot-pass at 11:21 for a 4-3 Chihuahua lead. The Sockers got their first power play of the night with 1:14 remaining in the half when Luis Medrano was shown a blue card for a hard kick to the back of Leo’s leg. On a slightly mis-weighted pass from Chiles back to Cesar Cerda, disaster struck. Miguel Angel Diaz pressured Cerda back toward the net and eventually stole the ball, coming in clean on Snaer-Williams. He wall-passed to clear Xavier from the play, collecting the ball himself for a slam-dunk short-handed goal, good for a 5-3 lead at 14:43. The Sockers trudged into the half trailing by two, having conceded their first short-handed goal of the season.
Leo’s power-play goal came on a Tavoy Morgan assist at 10:01 of the third quarter and gave the Sockers their last breath of life in the match, trailing by 5-4. Morgan saw his eight-match goal-scoring streak come to an end in the contest. A critical error just seconds later saw the Sockers concede a free kick deep in their defensive zone, which Nunez put past the defensive wall and into the net at 10:20 to extinguish dreams of a completed comeback.
Nunes and Angel Castro scored at 3:30 and 6:23 of the fourth quarter to put the match out of reach, before Escoto—playing with a serious illness that had left him bedridden until just before match time—snuck a goal inside the right post for his team-leading 17th of the season, narrowing the margin to 8-5. Chiles’ power play goal from Tavoy at 10:43 set the final margin, but the Sockers could not find any more offensive answers from there.
Still with a more-than-comfortable lead in the MASL Pacific Division, the Sockers prepare for three matches next week. San Diego will host the Texas Outlaws on Tuesday and Thursday night at Pechanga Arena before traveling to Ontario on Sunday, February 18 to battle the Empire Strykers. $10 GA tickets for the Tuesday and Thursday home matches are available by visiting sdsockers.com/ticketspecials or calling (866) 799-GOAL.