MATCH REPORT // Sockers Race Past Dallas Late
The San Diego Sockers—presented by Kaiser Permanente San Diego—used a 5-0 fourth quarter to out-run the Dallas Sidekicks by a final score of 9-4 on Saturday night at the Allen Event Center. San Diego (4-6) snapped a four-match losing streak and set a season-high for goals in a tuneup for their Ron Newman Cup first-round series next week against Tacoma.
Kraig Chiles returned to the club in style, netting a hat-trick with two assists for a five-point game. The Sockers captain and all-time leading scorer had been absent from the lineup since February 21 with a lower leg injury. Both of his assists were on the power play setting up Leonardo de Oliveira, who had two goals and an assist.
“I thought our finishing was better today,” said Chiles, “We didn’t drop our heads when we (fell behind), and we knew we had to bounce back and dig one goal at a time.”
San Diego had to dig out of deficits of 3-0 in the second quarter, and 4-3 in the third. The Sockers netted three straight second-quarter goals to tie it, including back-to-back power-play scores by Leo, each time finishing off right post on a cross-field pass from Chiles.
“The power play is about those intricate details, and executing in the final moment, “ said Chiles, who added a shootout goal later, “It felt good to come back and make an immediate impact.”
Also impactful was a new rule instituted by the MASL in time for the 2021 Ron Newman Cup playoffs: instant replay. Each head coach is allowed one challenge per match, and San Diego’s Phil Salvagio made league history with the first successful challenge reversal. What was originally ruled a foul on the Sockers’ Tavoy Morgan was reversed to a top-of-the-arc free-kick for San Diego.
“It was a clear foul,” said Salvagio, “and so that’s what the decision was (to challenge), and we won. I still think it should have been two minutes (a blue card) though.”
Moments later, Dallas’ Simon Bozas attempted to challenge a blue card against the Sidekicks, and was unsuccessful in his challenge. The Sockers scored on the subsequent power play on the first of the two Leo strikes.
A frustrating start to the game saw San Diego dominate the opening minutes without scoring, before falling into a late-quarter funk. Dallas’ Julio Varela netted a pair of goals in the run of play, sandwiching a short-handed golazo from Kristian Quintana in the opening twelve seconds of the second quarter. 5:28 into the frame, the Sidekicks were up 3-0.
San Diego’s comeback began with Tavoy Morgan working hard in the attacking right corner and banging a shot off the glass. The rebound deflected off a Dallas defender into the net, and Morgan had his third goal and fourth point in three games with the Sockers at 6:28, making it 3-1.
The Leo goals at 11:03 and 14:17, both coming on crossing passes from Chiles in the left corner, put San Diego at level terms going into the half, 3-3. Freddie Moojen took advantage of a Sockers turnover and found himself unmarked on the low right-wing, finishing past William Vanzela at 4:27 of the third quarter for Dallas’ final lead of the match, 4-3. Chiles’ shootout goal at 13:35 of the quarter re-established a tie, coming off a blue card against Sidekicks’ keeper Juan Gamboa for a handball outside the box.
Slavisa Ubiparipovic, returning to the lineup for the first time since February 21, made his presence felt with back-to-back assists in the fourth quarter, first spotting Escoto with a wall pass from the yellow line on the near post. Escoto poked the ball past Gamboa for his team-leading 11th goal of the season and a 5-4 lead at 2:34 of the fourth quarter.
Minutes later, Slav spotted Chiles creeping out on the right wing to create space, and drew the defense in with a run up the middle before slotting the ball to Chiles for the finish and a 6-4 advantage at 6:39. A restart near the right post finished the hat trick at 9:28, as Chiles hesitated before rolling the ball between the legs of a moving defender.
Dallas went for a sixth attacker with 5:36 remaining, and surrendered a long empty-netter to Cesar Cerda at 9:50, shot from beyond mid-field. Leo set up Christian Gutierrez for another empty-net goal at 13:47 to conclude the scoring.
With the 2021 regular season concluded, all seven participating teams now advance to the Ron Newman Cup playoffs. The fifth-seeded Sockers and sixth-seeded Tacoma Stars (4-7) will meet in a best-of-three series, played at neutral-site Toyota Arena in Ontario, California. Game 1 will take place on Friday, March 26, and Game 2 on Sunday, March 28. If a third and deciding game is needed, a one-quarter mini-game will be played after the conclusion of Game 2. All games can be watched on MASL pay-per-view on facebook.com.