Sockers Surge Into First Place In MASL With 12-3 Win
The defending Ron Newman Cup champions have been flying under the radar, letting other clubs collect league honors and internet hype. Like it or not, that time is probably over.
Behind a six-point performance from Leonardo de Oliveira (two goals/four assists) and a five-point performance from Charlie Gonzalez (two goals/three assists), the San Diego Sockers ran the show at accesso ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington, beating the Tacoma Stars 12-3 for the club’s ninth straight victory.
San Diego (12-0-1, 33 points) moved into first place in the MASL’s standings bracket, where the three division winners take the top three seeds, followed by the next five highest points finishers. Losses by Florida (10-1-1, 31 points) and Kansas City (9-1-1, 28 points) in overtime allowed the Sockers to move into the top place on the MASL table.
The Sockers set a club record dating back to their indoor entrance to the NASL in 1980 by going 6-for-6 on the power play, improving to a MASL-best 15-for-24 (63%) with a man advantage. San Diego also killed a power play against, and lead the league in penalty kill with 11 stops in 14 attempts (79%).
Tavoy Morgan scored four goals for the Sockers, three on the man advantage, improving to a club-leading 19 goals on the season. Brandon Escoto continued his torment of the Stars with a pair of assists, improving to fifteen points (7 goals/8 assists) in five matches against Tacoma.
While San Diego’s offensive excellence was evident on the scoreboard, the club’s defense is the reason why the Sockers are the only MASL club without a regulation loss. Goalkeeper Boris Pardo stopped seven of nine shots in 37 minutes of action, improving to a league-leading 9-0-1 in net. Rookie Xavier Snaer-Williams played the rest of the way, stopping three-of-four shots. San Diego blocked nine shots, led by three from de Oliveira.
The Sockers took advantage of a physical effort by Tacoma, converting three power plays into goals in the opening quarter. After Juan Carlos “Charlie” Gonzalez opened the scoring 1:13 into the action, the Sockers saw the Stars (3-8-1) parade to the penalty box with three blue card fouls. Morgan, de Oliveira, and Kraig Chiles (two goals/assist) all converted with the extra man to put San Diego comfortably ahead. The lone Tacoma goal came on an own goal deflected off Leo in the crease.
Tacoma’s fortune to score on an own goal was returned 2:25 into the second quarter, when San Diego midfielder Sean Callahan saw a ball near the goal line ricochet off him, then Stars midfielder Danny Minitti, for a 5-1 lead. Kevin Naranjo of Tacoma answered at 9:17 from Vini Dantas (two goals/assist) to make the score 5-2, but Morgan finished a wall pass from San Diego native Andy Reyes just fifteen seconds later to set the scoreline at 6-2, where it stood into halftime.
The Sockers leeched any potential drama out of the second half with three early goals, as Chiles, Morgan, and Gonzalez all tallied in the first 7:19 to run the score to 9-2. Both clubs then substituted their veteran keepers out of the cage, with Mike Arguello taking over for Danny Waltman (4/13 saves), and Snaer-Williams ending Pardo’s evening. Christian Gutierrez, Leo, and Morgan wrapped up the Sockers’ scoring, while Vini Dantas potted his second for the Stars. San Diego improved to 5-0 against Tacoma, and 7-0 on the road in the 2021-22 MASL season.
The Sockers continue their trip on Tuesday when they travel to Ontario, where the Fury (7-3-2) will be desperate to improve upon their eleven-point deficit in the MASL West division. Kickoff is set for 7:05 from Toyota Arena on MASL TV. San Diego returns home on Friday, February 25 to host the MASL Central-leading Kansas City Comets at 7:35pm. Fans in attendance will receive a Sockers team poster, and the San Diego Wave FC from the NWSL will make a halftime pep rally appearance. Tickets are available for all upcoming Sockers home games at sdsockers.com/tickets, or by phone at (866) 799-GOAL.