Sockers Overpower Tacoma For First Win
Slavisa Ubiparipovic scored his first two goals with his new team and captain Kraig Chiles added two goals with two assists, as the San Diego Sockers bounced back from a season opening loss. They hold off the Tacoma Stars on the road 7-3 on Saturday night at Accesso ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington.
San Diego (1-1) returned to the form the Major Arena Soccer League is used to, combining tough defense, clutch goalkeeping, and timely finishing to continue their dominant play away from home. The Sockers have won seventeen consecutive regular season games away from Pechanga Arena San Diego.
Ubiparipovic went without a goal in his Sockers debut, but rebounded with a pair of tallies in the third quarter to push San Diego into a controlling position. Boris Pardo (1-1), the defending MASL Goalkeeper of the Year, was credited with ten saves, including a point blank stop in the closing seconds.
The Sockers came out flying to start the first quarter, literally. Brian Farber’s flying bicycle kick 40 seconds into the opening frame hit the left post and then the goal line before being scooped up by Danny Waltman before crossing the line for a very near miss.
Waltman would initiate the scoring from the goalie box, throwing a perfect distribution after a loose ball. The long pass one-hopped to striker Mike Ramos, who toe poked the ball from the left wing inside right post and into the net for the game’s first goal at 12:10 of the first quarter.
San Diego would even the score by proving the axiom that if you shoot, good things happen. After receiving a right wing crossing pass from Cesar Cerda, midfielder Travis Pittman took a shot just wide of net, which caromed off a pair of Stars defenders in the box, pin-balling into the net for a leveling score with 29 seconds remaining in the frame. The teams were tied 1-1 after 15 minutes.
The Sockers drew the night’s first power play midway through the second quarter, when Luis “Peewee” Ortega was boarded by Tacoma’s Mike Ramos. On the ensuing power play, Brandon Escoto drew in the Stars’ defense with a run toward right post before cutting a no-look pass across the crease to an unmarked Kraig Chiles. San Diego’s captain made no mistake with a center-net finish from the left wing, giving the Sockers a 2-1 lead at 6:46 of the frame.
Less than three minutes later, Cerda challenged a ball along the right wall at midfield and wedged the ball loose to Chiles behind the defense. As Cerda ran to the top of the key to spread the defense, Chiles had room to attack on the right wing, taking a touch in before finishing strong for a 3-1 lead.
The Stars drew one back before halftime with another aerial assault, and a MVP finish. Alex Caceras’ long ball forward from the left wall connected with defending league MVP Nick Perera on right wing deep in the attacking zone. Perera unleashed a full volley first time out of the air, swatting the ball past a diving Pardo while sneaking it inside left post for his first goal of the season. San Diego led 3-2 at halftime.
Ubiparipovic was the dominant force of the third quarter, scoring twice to give the Sockers a 5-2 lead. The first was a left footed finish of a rebound after Taylor Bond’s shot from the crease went just wide left, giving San Diego a 4-2 advantage 1:15 into the period. Later, seconds after a Sockers power play expired, Slavisa was lurking on right wing to finish a Chiles’ pass off the boards at 8:14.
San Diego gave one back with under two minutes to go, when some shaky passing in the defensive zone put Cerda under pressure from Alessandro Canale, as a Pardo left-to-right possession pass hopped slowly. After wrestling a spinning ball away from the Sockers defender, Canale was able to fire a low shot into the net before Pardo could recover into position at 9:53. The Sockers led 5-3 after three quarters.
A nervy fourth quarter saw San Diego kill off a Tacoma power play in the closing minutes, before sealing the game on counter attack. Chiles fed Escoto for a upper 90 finish at 12:05 to put the match out of reach at 6-3. Farber’s goal against six attackers concluded the scoring at 14:38 on a feed from Christian Gutierrez.
The Sockers will enjoy a bye week before returning to action with a pair of games in two weekends. San Diego will host the Ontario Fury on December 13, before welcoming Soles de Sonora to town on December 15. Tickets are available at (866) 799-GOAL or online at Sockers.com.