KENT, WA - One of the craziest and most controversial finishes in Major Arena Soccer League history saw the San Diego Sockers pull out a wild 8-7 overtime win against the Tacoma Stars on Sunday night at accesso ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington. Brandon Escoto’s header goal with five seconds left in the fourth quarter—short-handed after a flurry of penalty cards—tied the match 7-7, and Tavoy Morgan netted the match-winner 2:26 into golden goal overtime.
A total of 16 penalty cards were shown to the two clubs in a match that took almost three hours to complete, with over an hour for just the fourth quarter. The Sockers (9-1, 26 points) were shown a total of eight cards in the final quarter, with goalkeeper Boris Pardo ejected on a red card for dissent, midfielder Charlie Gonzalez on a red card for contact, and a shootout penalty called against defender Drew Ruggles with thirty seconds to play and the Sockers down 7-6.
Stars captain and MASL MVP Nick Perera took the shootout against Sockers backup keeper Xavier Snaer-Williams, but as he used footwork to get around the keeper to his left, Sockers midfielder Gabriel Costa hustled from behind to block his shot. Tacoma announcers insisted that Costa left the midfield stripe early before the shootout whistle blew, but play continued, the Sockers ran on an extra attacker, stayed on attack, and Costa netted a goal from the center of the attacking zone at 14:59 to tie the match and trigger a wild celebration.
A video review then took place, which did not invalidate the shootout block but did take away the goal, instead giving the Sockers the ball back with 13.9 seconds remaining, once again trailing 7-6. Again, Snaer-Williams ran off for an extra attacker, defensive captain Cesar Cerda (hat trick, assist) looped a long forward pass that hit off the frame of the goal, bouncing down directly to Escoto’s head for a point-blank header and another improbable equalizer, this one at 14:55.
In overtime, Costa weaved his way down the left wing before feathering a pass to Morgan in the middle, who simply toe-tapped it through traffic into the net from the middle of the crease for his only goal of the night at 2:26.
The fourth quarter began with Tacoma (5-4-1, 16 points) leading 6-4, looking for their first win over the Sockers this season and to break a losing streak dating back to 2021. Sockers captain Kraig Chiles netted a power-play goal at 2:43 of the quarter to narrow the score to 6-5, but the match seemed to reel out of control at the 4:30 mark. San Diego defender Luis “Peewee” Ortega was shown a blue card penalty for charging, and Pardo yelled at official Shane Butler, who quickly showed the veteran back-to-back yellow cards for dissent and then a red card for ejection. With a two-man advantage after all the penalties, Tacoma’s Micheal Ramos (two goals) netted off a deflection at 6:19 for a 7-5 lead.
The lunacy was just getting started.
San Diego’s Charlie Gonzalez was given a blue card for tripping with 4:42 remaining. As the two teams went to their benches for a time out, Sockers trainer Paul Savage tossed a water bottle onto the floor for Morgan, only to see Tacoma’s Alex Caceres pick up the bottle instead. Tavoy reached for it and Careces held it away from him, so Morgan then punched the bottle out of his hand, at which point Caceres fell like he was hit. Both players were shown blue cards and sent to the penalty box.
With 2:47 remaining, Tacoma’s Logan Jones got the next penalty, a blue card for obstruction. The Sockers pulled Snaer-Williams for a sixth attacker and 6-v-4 power play, but their shot attempt wound up in the hands of Stars keeper Chris Toth, whose attempt to throw in a short-handed goal was blocked by the deliberately raised hand of Morgan (now out of the box) for another blue card. As the play was whistled dead, ahead of the action Caceres pushed Charlie Gonzalez, who retaliated with a shove of his own up high. Both players were red carded and ejected from the match.
Still with an extra attacker on the floor (now defender Drew Ruggles), the Sockers pressed for a tying goal in the final minute but saw Tacoma gain possession and rush toward the empty net. Ruggles swept the feet out from Jamael Cox for a penalty blue card and shootout, triggering the Perera attempt that Costa blocked, the tying goal that was taken away, the tying goal that *wasn’t* taken away, and then the eventual match-winner.
Much earlier, the Sockers took an early 1-0 lead behind Felipe Gonzalez, only to see Tacoma net three first-quarter goals, including an exchange of goals between the teams at 14:51 and 14:59 that was a harbinger of things to come. The Stars led 3-2 after fifteen minutes.
Eddie Na netted for Tacoma and Escoto answered for San Diego in an otherwise quiet second quarter. Down 4-3 at the half, the Sockers conceded twice in the third quarter at 2:25 (Jamael Cox) and 6:17 (Micheal Ramos, power play) to trail by their largest margin, 6-3. The Stars earned a power play on a Chiles striking penalty with 4:10 left in the third and a chance to salt the match away, but Cerda stole the ball from Perera deep in the defensive zone, ran up the right wall short-handed, used a sidewall pass from Christian Gutierrez to clear space up the middle, then fired in his second short-handed goal of the season straightaway at 12:23 to narrow the match to 6-4, a tally of hidden importance until after the storm of cards and late goals passed in the fourth.
The Sockers and Stars will await any further review from the MASL disciplinary committee before heading to Texas for a Western Division showdown with the first-place Texas Outlaws on Thursday, February 1. San Diego will complete a four-match road trip through Tacoma, Texas, and Chihuahua before returning home on February 13 and 15 to host the Outlaws at Pechanga Arena. Tickets are available by calling (866) 799-GOAL or visiting sdsockers.com