Match Report // Savage Sweep Season Series, 5-4

An intense competition, a furious fourth-quarter comeback, and the potential for a statement win all disappeared in a matter of seconds. 

The San Diego Sockers battled back from a two-goal deficit in the fourth quarter, tied the match against the defending Ron Newman Cup champion Chihuahua Savage 4-4 with 3:40 remaining in the fourth quarter, then saw the Savage instantly answer back on Angel Castro’s unassisted goal just 21 seconds later, good for a 5-4 Chihuahua victory at Pechanga Arena. The Savage (11-5, 32 points) swept all three matches from the Sockers (15-4, 43 points), including two in San Diego. 

“Giving up the last goal thereafter we worked so hard coming back, we made some mistakes,” said head coach Phil Salvagio, “At the end of the day (it was) a good game, but overall, still not good enough.”

San Diego had created a two-goal lead, surrendered four straight goals to Chihuahua, then netted twice in the fourth quarter to tie the match 4-4. Before the cheers had faded and the announcement of Flavio Guzman’s equalizer could be shared with the crowd, the Savage were back on top. Angel Castro captured a weak clearance attempt at the mid-wall, found a flat-footed defender, and burst toward the goal wall, creating space to his left. His toe-poke shot snuck between keeper Boris Pardo and the near post, a deflating moment in an otherwise very strong performance (11 saves) for the veteran keeper. 

The match turned on a controversial call with 2:28 remaining in the second quarter. Sockers forward Tavoy Morgan and veteran Chihuahua defender Gustavo Rosales got tied up in front of the Savage net. Morgan asserted his was bit and pinched by Rosales, dropping him to his knees. As he got up and pushed to the edge of the crease to try and capture a pass, Rosales tackled him to the turf. No foul was called. Rosales then wrapped his right arm around Morgan’s right leg, refusing to let go. As Morgan tried to shake himself free, Rosales continued to cling to and hold the leg. The officials gave a blue card to both players, asserting Morgan had kicked Rosales. Head coach Phil Salvagio threw a challenge flag, but the officials said they could not find conclusive video evidence to change their decision. 

“There was a hold and a kick, but what they really missed was the bite mark,” said Salvagio, “I could see it on his skin.”

While the Sockers were arguing with the officials, the Savage started to take control of the around for Caique Ribiero’s goal with 34 seconds remaining in the half, turning a 2-0 lead into 2-1 going to halftime. 

“It deflated us a bit,” admitted captain Kraig Chiles, “We tried to battle back and play through.”

The third quarter saw the defending champs ramp up the intensity, while the Sockers lost their focus. After a restart goal by Carlos Hernandez tied the match 2-2 at 9:54 of the quarter, San Diego made a sloppy line change and was shown a blue card for too many men on the floor. The Savage buried their only power play chance of the match, as former Socker Erick Tovar smashed a volley into the top netting at 12:33 for a 3-2 lead. 

“We get a little too emotional sometimes,” said Chiles, “We feel hard done (by the refs) sometimes, and candidly, we had a really good start to the game. That third quarter was tough for us to get possession, and every time we got the ball, we turned it over too quickly to get our full recovery. Credit to them, but we’ve got to look back and make sure we get this right.”

The Sockers built a 2-0 first-half lead on goals by Brandon Escoto and rookie Juan Salazar. 

Chihuahua out-shot the Sockers 9-1 in the third quarter, then took a two-goal lead on Roberto Escalante’s goal from the top of the crease at 4:36 of the fourth quarter. 

Charlie Gonzalez scored a power-play goal at 7:23 of the fourth quarter to draw within one at 4-3, and Flavio Guzman’s rebound goal at 11:20 sent the Pechanga Arena crowd into a frenzy. Before the goal could finish being announced in the arena, Castro had scored to regain the lead. San Diego went to six attackers but could not find the equalizer.

The Sockers still have a lead of eleven points over the Savage in the West, but need to take 17 of the remaining 18 standings points to guarantee themselves the Pacific Division. Chihuahua has one more match remaining against 20-0 Monterrey, but improved to 11-0 against American MASL teams. San Diego’s next chance is at home against the Empire Strykers on Sunday, March 10 at 5:05pm. Tickets are available by calling (866) 799-GOAL or visiting