Match Report // San Diego Ambushes St. Louis, 8-2
Kraig Chiles netted a brace and seven different Sockers found the back of the net, as the San Diego Sockers earned a workmanlike 8-2 victory over the St. Louis Ambush on Saturday night at Pechanga Arena. Gabriel Costa led the Sockers (8-1) with a goal and two assists, as San Diego used a 7-1 first half to put the match out of reach early.
“The coaches told us to come out strong in the first quarter,” said defender Cesar Cerda, who added two assists to the attack, “We know we have travel tomorrow so we wanted to take care of business and get ready for another tough match tomorrow.”
Facing their third interstate back-to-back of the season with a match at 5:05pm Sunday in Tacoma, the Sockers used a 4-0 first quarter and 3-1 second quarter to take the life out of the Ambush (2-8-2) early. Charlie Gonzalez scored just 57 seconds into the match for a 1-0 Sockers lead, and Brandon Escoto, Chiles, and Tavoy Morgan each found their way to goals before the opening frame was complete.
“We wanted to jump all over St. Louis,” said Chiles, “We were hot there for a little bit, and the truth is, it’s a positive. It wasn’t the best second half for us, but our focus is already on Tacoma.”
John Eskay netted a counter-attack goal for the Ambush 38 seconds into the second quarter, but the Sockers responded with a burst of three goals in just 56 seconds. Luis “Peewee” Ortega, Costa, and rookie Juan Salazar respectively netted goals at 4:14, 4:34, and 5:10 of the quarter.
Halftime brought the legends of decades past onto the floor one last time, as the Sockers staged their annual Alumni Game for the final time at Pechanga Arena before heading to the new Frontwave Arena in Oceanside next season. All-time greats like Brian Quinn, Paul Dougherty, and Kevin Crow returned to the floor they helped make famous with ten championships in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The pressure to perform in front of the stars of indoor’s heyday is never lost on current Sockers such as Cerda.
“It’s like probably the biggest game for us every year,” said Cerda with a smile, “We have the legends in the crowd and even in our locker room, and it’s extra motivation to do a good job.”
With both teams facing a road match tomorrow (the Ambush play in Empire), the second half was a bit of a tactical slog, featuring a lot of half-speed possession and one goal for each side. William Eskay scored for St. Louis at 14:21 of the third quarter, while Chiles found his brace at 7:51 of the fourth quarter.
The focus now becomes an opportunity for a six-point weekend. The Sockers with the win earn their 24th standings point, tied with the Texas Outlaws for first place in the MASL Western Division with three matches in hand. San Diego has an 8:00am flight to SEA/TAC Airport before a 5:05pm kickoff at accesso ShoWare Center against a 5-4 Tacoma Stars side hungry for their first win over the Sockers in five tries this season. The match will be streamed on Twitch on channel masl_soccer3. San Diego begins a three-week, four-match road trip before returning home for a pair of matches against Texas Outlaws on February 13 and 15. Tickets are available for both matches at sdsockers.com/tickets.