San Diego's Win Streak Ends 9-5 In Baltimore

All good things come to an end, even Sockers winning streaks.

San Diego saw its nine-match win streak and 19-match road win streak come to a painful end, as the Baltimore Blast led start to finish in a 9-5 loss on Saturday evening at SECU Arena. The Sockers (9-2) fell behind 2-0 and then 4-1, pulled back to 4-2, then saw Baltimore convert a pair of power plays in the second half to salt the match away.

“It doesn’t matter how many games you’ve won in a row; every loss is dramatic. It really hurts,” said Sockers head coach Phil Salvagio.

Brian Farber scored his team-leading 11th and 12th goals for the Sockers, but was flagged for a pair of blue card penalties in the second half, both of which were converted into Blast goals. Leading scorer Vini Dantas paced Baltimore (6-5) with a hat trick and assist.

San Diego came to SECU Arena, with the smallest field in the MASL, for the first time on Saturday, knowing they would need to be sure with the ball on their feet to have success. Instead, the Saturday evening crowd roared early as a pair of turnovers late in the first quarter were pulled out of their net.

First, a giveaway at midfield led to an outmanned rush for the Blast, with Ibrahima Keita given a path to the goal. A strong challenge by San Diego’s Guerrero Pino in the crease deflected the ball away, but Dantas was looking to put home the loose ball for a 1-0 lead at 9:54.

Just seconds later, the Sockers conceded possession under high pressure from the Blast in the defensive zone, and as Pardo pushed outside his crease to cut down the angle, a quick half-volley forced him into a hand save outside his zone, whistled for an automatic shootout. Juan Pereira made no mistake with the free roll in on net, lifting home his seventh goal of the season at 10:06 to make it 2-0 Blast. The score held through the end of the first quarter.

San Diego’s first goal of the night came off the boot of Slavisa Ubiparipovic, who smashed home his 11th goal of the season at 10:09 of the second quarter from point-blank range, after Eduardo Velez won possession in the attacking right corner.

The 2-1 score held until the final seconds of the opening half, when on a 50/50 challenge in the corner, the Blast were awarded an offensive free-kick. Jonatan Melo’s distribution was deflected in the air across frame, where Adriano Dos Santos was waiting for a back-post finish and a 3-1 score at 14:10 of the half.

Dantas and Sockers captain Kraig Chiles exchanged goals in the third quarter, before the game turned on a pair of cards. Baltimore’s Jamie Thomas was shown a blue card for contacting San Diego keeper Boris Pardo in the crease. However, in the ensuing kerfuffle, the Sockers’ Eduardo Velez was also shown a blue card for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The two minutes of 4-v-4 ended without a goal scored, but seconds later, Farber was carded for running into Baltimore’s keeper William Vanzela. Dantas snapped in a left-wing goal from Melo’s assist to make it 5-2 and essentially end San Diego’s slowly building momentum. Melo and Farber both netted in the final minute of the third quarter to make it 6-3 Blast after 45 minutes.

After another exchange of goals between Baltimore’s Victor France and San Diego’s Farber, a blue card against Farber for a late tackle on Tony Donatelli was turned into another Blast goal, this time with Victor France finishing his second of the quarter from Dantas to make it 8-4 at the 11:22 mark.

While the Blast chose not to attack on their final power play of the night (with 20 seconds remaining), Baltimore went 3-for-3 on their power plays prior. The Sockers conceded six consecutive man-up goals over a four-match stretch prior to the bow-out at the end.

“We’ve got to get better, and we’re going to work on it,” said Salvagio of the man-down struggles, “We’ll work on it this week at practice, and we’ll figure it out.”

Brandon Escoto scored a deflected goal with San Diego using six attackers in the closing minutes, and Vanzela threw in a goal across the diminutive home field in the final minute to set the full-time score at 9-5 Blast.

The Sockers’ six-match road trip picks up after an idle week in earnest, with four matches in six days. San Diego will face Monterrey next on Monday, February 4 at Arena Monterrey. The Sockers will return home on February 12 to rematch against Baltimore.

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