Match Report // Stars Stun Sockers Late In Finale

A fourth-quarter lead in the San Diego Sockers’ final regular season home match at Pechanga Arena was too much to hold for the home team, as the Tacoma Stars scored three goals in 53 seconds from 12:11 to 13:04 of the fourth quarter, pulling out an 8-6 victory on Saturday night. A season-high crowd of 3,110 left disappointed as Tacoma’s Jamael Cox, Justin Stinson, and Micheal Ramos scored at 12:11, 12:42, and then into an empty net at 13:04 to finish off the match. 

“It was a great indoor game,” said head coach Phil Salvagio, “The game meant nothing to either team but you couldn’t tell at all. That’s the second straight match we’ve lost a fourth-quarter lead, that can’t happen anymore.”

The Sockers (18-6) head into the Ron Newman Cup playoffs as the top seed in the Western Division of the MASL, but they do so with a previously unseen vulnerability. San Diego enters the playoffs on a two-match losing streak, the first time the club has lost back-to-back matches since March 13-14, 2021. The Sockers completed an 8-4 home schedule, their worst home mark in modern San Diego Sockers history. San Diego will face the Texas Outlaws in the opening round of the playoffs, with Match One in Mesquite on Saturday, April 6, and Match Two (and a knockout match if necessary) on Monday, April 8. 

Tacoma (15-6-2) caps their best season in MASL franchise history by snapping a 13-match losing streak to the Sockers, while improving their franchise-record win streak to eight in a row entering the playoffs. The Stars are the third seed against the defending Ron Newman Cup champion Chihuahua Savage, who lost back-to-back matches in Tacoma earlier in the month. Stinson, on loan from the Empire Strykers, netted twice, including a perfectly-placed shot through the legs of two San Diego defenders at 12:42 for the match winner, coming off a free kick pass from the wall by Cox. 

Tavoy Morgan scored a pair of goals for the Sockers, while Brandon Escoto finished the regular season with a team-leading 29 goals, including one on Saturday night. Gabriel Costa, Drew Ruggles, and Kraig Chiles also scored in the losing cause for San Diego. 

The match was filled with chippy play and confrontations, including a moment in the second quarter when Tacoma’s Tyler John and San Diego’s Chiles tangled on their way back to the benches from a free kick. As Chiles tried to get through John and back to his bench, he extended his arm, and John lost balance, falling through the open bench door into San Diego’s bench. Tacoma’s Stefan Mijatovic then jumped with two feet onto the opposing bench to confront the Sockers team, joined by the Stars’ Adrian Correa. While both John and Chiles saw blue cards, neither Mijatovic nor Correa was not penalized for the transgressions.

The angry confrontations continued, with the teams needing to be separated on their way to the locker rooms during halftime, and then through a second half which was filled with whistles. 

A total of 41 fouls were called during the match. 

San Diego took a 6-5 lead at 7:08 of the fourth quarter on Morgan’s second of the night, but the Stars pulled their keeper Chris Toth for a sixth attacker and quickly found the equalizer. Willie Spurr fed Jamael Cox on the right angle, who faked a pass and then used his left foot to perfectly place his shot inside the right post to tie the match 6-6 at 12:11. Seconds later, the Stars were back on the attack, and drew a foul on the right wall, where Cox was able to center to Stinson for the match-winner. San Diego pulled their keeper for a sixth attacker, but immediately turned the ball over, and Micheal Ramos (two goals) lobbed a goal into the empty net from over half the field away. 

The Sockers will attempt to regroup before entering the playoffs against the Texas Outlaws next weekend. Tickets are available for the Monday, April 8 return leg of the opening round by visiting or calling (866) 799-GOAL.