Sockers Dominate Stars 9-3 With Offense & Defense
With a dynamic performance on both ends of the floor, the San Diego Sockers posted a 9-3 win over the Tacoma Stars on Saturday night at Pechanga Arena. The Sockers (5-0, 15 points) won their 11th straight over Tacoma, 15th straight regular season match dating back to last season, and carry a 25-match regular season home winning streak into the New Year.
Tavoy Morgan netted a hat trick to power the San Diego offense, while midfielder Leonardo de Oliveira led the club with a four-point night (goal, three assists). On the other end of the floor, back-to-back MASL Goalkeeper of the Year Boris Pardo put on a first-half show, making 11 of his 17 saves before halftime. Pardo finished 17-for-20 on the night, improving to 5-0 in net.
“That’s what indoor soccer’s all about,” said head coach Phil Salvagio, “It was a great match with good pace, great for the crowd. Very exciting today, a lot of intensity, and a lot of great ballhandling.”
San Diego netted multiple goals in all four quarters in the club’s most complete performance of the 2023-24 season to date. Charlie Gonzalez added two goals and an assist to the attack, and defender Drew Ruggles added a silky backheel goal along with an assist to the cause.
But the offensive engine up top was Morgan, who scored 1:36 into the match on Ruggles’ assist, added a second goal on Brandon Escoto’s helper at 13:46 of the first quarter, and then wrapped up his hat trick with a fourth-quarter power play goal. Morgan is tied with Charlie Gonzalez for the team lead with eight goals.
“I feel great to give the fans such a big performance going into the New Year, I wanted to say Happy New Year to everyone and get ready for our next match against Texas,” said Morgan.
The Sockers showed an enhanced intensity all evening in their defensive third, warding off Tacoma’s determined attack in the first half. San Diego blocked a season-high 19 shots, including eight from defender Guerrero Pino. When the Stars tried to ratchet up the physicality of the match, the Sockers responded by converting both of their power play opportunities into goals.
“We have a little bit of an extra bite at home, and we want to make sure this arena is our fortress,” said captain Kraig Chiles, “Especially in our last season here (at Pechanga Arena) we don’t intend to drop games here, so that extra intensity, if that’s what we have to do that’s what we’ll do.”
Two MASL milestones were on the watch list entering the night, including Chiles, who entered the action two points away from 400 in his career. The captain earned an assist on Ruggles’ ‘golazo’ in the second quarter for point #399, but Tacoma keeper Chris Toth came up with multiple point-blank and dynamic saves to keep Chiles from reaching the milestone number against him. Meanwhile, Toth (10/18 saves) passed Tacoma teammate Danny Waltman to become the MASL’s all-time saves leader with 1,939.
Leading 4-1 at the half, the Sockers took control with a goal 2:59 into the third quarter, as Gabriel Costa led a 3-on-1 break down low, feeding in Pino on his left for the defender’s first goal of the season. Alessandro Canale of the Stars answered with a nifty beach soccer-style goal at 3:38, bouncing a ball from his right knee to his left foot in close quarters before roofing a shot for 5-2. The match remained in balance until Charlie Gonzalez scored back-to-back goals, at 14:52 of the third quarter and 4:32 of the fourth quarter, pushing the score out of reach.
With the win, the Sockers held off the Texas Outlaws to maintain first place in the MASL Western Division, leading the (4-2-1) Outlaws by two standing points with two matches in hand. The Sockers and Outlaws will meet for the first time this season in San Diego’s next match, a 5:05pm home kickoff on Sunday, January 7 at Pechanga Arena. Tickets are available by visiting sdsockers.com or calling (866) 799-GOAL.