Sockers Edge Fury To Improve To 7-1

Luis Piffer’s goal 4:28 into the fourth quarter snapped a 3-3 tie, and a determined Sockers defense made the tally stand up for a 4-3 win on Sunday night at Pechanga Arena San Diego. Taylor Bond scored two goals and had the game-winning assist for the Sockers (7-1), while Boris Pardo put in his best match of the season in net with 17 saves.

Bond’s physical defense proved as important to the result as his tenacious offense. On the game-winning goal, Taylor’s pressure and steal on a defensive zone pass-out turned the ball around for a 3-on-1 break. Bond’s smooth roll-out on left wing hit the left foot of Piffer, who calmly finished his first goal since playing for the Sockers in 2014, and a 4-3 lead.

“The win is the big cherry on top of the cupcake there,” said Bond of his strong effort at forward, “It was just a hard effort by everyone on the team, we practiced hard all week and we executed what we needed to do.”

San Diego’s seventh straight win was their tenth in a row over three seasons against the Fury (2-4), who fell to 0-3 on the road with the loss. Playing without Jermaine Jones (coach’s decision), Ontario got two goals from Justin Stinson and one more from MASL leading goal-scorer Franck Tayou.

A tactical first quarter saw both teams concentrate on their marking strategies, as the Sockers kept a close eye on the high scoring Tayou, while the Fury looked to double team Leonardo de Oliveira and Brandon Escoto on every touch. The opening eight minutes saw tight defense and few chances to put the ball on net.

San Diego opened the scoring on a hustling midfield steal from Slavisa Ubiparipovic, who simultaneously denied Tayou a counter-attack opportunity, and created one of his own for the Sockers. Working into the offensive zone 3-on-1, Slav patiently found Bond in the middle of the penalty area, who took a sideways touch to elude the crashing midfielder Nestor Hernandez, then smoothly slotted the ball past the left shoulder of Fury keeper Chris Toth for a 1-0 lead at the 9:39 mark.

The score held through the first quarter of play, but not without a bit of good fortune, as a Stinson shot from the right wing hit the left post, and then the chest of Tayou, for what looked like a sure tap-in. Instead, the ball floated along the line toward the right post, where Pardo was able to scoop the ball out before it fully crossed the goal line.

The Fury turned the tables with a coldly efficient second quarter, levying twelve shots on net and finding two across the line. Given a power play when defender Guerrero Pino was whistled for a hand to the face, Ontario needed just seconds to convert, as Juan Carlos “Charlie” Gonzalez fed Stinson on left angle for a shot that went through Pardo’s legs at the near post and into the net for a 1-1 tie at 2:37 of the second.

Just three minutes later, a turnover by San Diego’s Ray Contreras at midfield sent Stinson in one-on-one against Pardo, who slotted home his 7th goal of the season for a 2-1 lead 5:26 into the second quarter. Pardo made nine of his 17 saves in the second quarter, denying Ontario a chance to extend their advantage.      

 The Sockers’ equalizer came on a full-field play through three veterans. Pardo’s throw-out after a long segment of Fury possession spotted a streaking Brian Farber, who kept his head up after one touch and served the ball forward to Bond, who was racing past the defense on the right-wing. Bond brought the ball out of the air with one deft toe-poke, beating Toth low on the ground inside the left post for his third goal of the year, and third in two matches. The game was tied 2-2 at the 11:53 mark, and the score held through to the halftime whistle.

San Diego regained the lead on a wicked left-footed free-kick by Ubiparipovic, who netted his team-leading ninth goal of the year for a 3-2 lead just 1:01 into the third quarter. Tayou answered with a strong second effort goal, working himself free in front of Pardo for a point-blank shot, which was saved. The rebound was calmly knocked home by Tayou for his league-leading 16th goal of the year, and the 3-3 tie held into a nervous fourth quarter.

After Bond and Piffer teamed up on the go-ahead score, the Sockers used a pair of fourth quarter-power plays not to increase the advantage, but to winnow the time remaining. The second card shown, a holding foul by Ontario’s Joseph Cairel with 2:17 left in the match, allowed San Diego to possess out the clock without another chance for the visitors.

After a bye week, the Sockers close their four-match homestand when they welcome in the Mesquite Outlaws for a January 19 match at Pechanga Arena San Diego, a 5:05pm kickoff. San Diego will then depart on a six-match road trip before welcoming in Baltimore on February 12. All fans who attended the win over Ontario, and all fans who attend the match on January 19, can use their ticket as a buy-one, get-one-free offer for the February 12 match. Call (866) 799-GOAL for tickets.