Sockers Pull Past Turlock In Fourth Quarter 6-5

Luis “Peewee” Ortega scored twice on special teams in the fourth quarter, once shorthanded and once on the power play, as the San Diego Sockers outlasted the upstart Turlock Cal Express by a 6-5 final score. The Sockers (4-1) needed two goals from Ortega and one from Travis Pittman in the final frame to emerge victorious from California’s Central Valley.

Leonardo de Oliveira scored twice with an assist to power the San Diego offense, while Eduardo Velez added his third goal in two matches, as the Sockers held off the suddenly potent Express (3-2) to forge a tie for the season series.

Trailing 4-3 after 45 minutes of play, San Diego rallied past a flurry of blue cards to establish their margin of victory. Ortega’s short-handed goal 1:05 into the fourth quarter, coming on a loose ball breakaway up the middle, put the Sockers back to level terms at 4-4.

After concurrent blue cards led to a 4-v-4 situation, Leo intercepted a ball in the attacking zone and found an unmarked Pittman on the left post, who spun to the right foot to put San Diego in front 5-4 at 6:27 of the final quarter.

In a game that saw nine blue card penalties issued, seven in the second half, the first power-play against the Express turned out to be the winning goal. Gerardo Jurado’s penalty for a reckless tackle was converted by a brilliant Ortega shot as his curving strike looped over the defense and into the upper left corner for his fourth goal of the season with 6:12 remaining in the match.

Adjusting to the smaller field in Turlock can often be a challenge, and a tactical first quarter saw a lot of tight space and little room to link passes. The Express found the game’s first goal, as a loose ball off a blocked shot bounced around to Arturo Pulido shaded inside the left post, who smashed home his second goal of the season for a 1-0 lead at 9:50 of the first. The Express held their lead into the quarter break, and in doing so led for their first five quarters of play against San Diego.

The Sockers turned up the possession in the second quarter, working to wear down the Express defense. After drawing a foul and gaining a corner kick, Slavisa Ubiparipovic rolled a pass to the top of the key, past the fake of Luis Piffer and to the waiting Leonardo de Oliveira. Leo put laces to the ball for a rising shot inside the right post and into the high corner for his third goal of the campaign, tying the match at 1-1 at the 6:55 mark. Later in the quarter, Eduardo Velez’s centering pass from the right wall struck the leg of Express defender Manuel Rojo, deflecting past the helpless keeper Martin Sanchez at 12:44 for an unassisted goal, Velez’ third in two games. The Sockers led 2-1 into halftime.

Cal was gifted a tie early in the third quarter on a mishandled distribution by Pardo, who rolled a pass straight to Express midfielder Luis Brambila, who took a touch before burying a shot over the keeper’s shoulder for his first MASL goal at 2:58 for a 2-2 score.

The tie lasted less than ten seconds, as after a quick foul in the attacking corner, San Diego re-ran their scoring play from the first quarter, with Ubiparipovic sending a service out of the right corner to Leo straightaway, who shot first-time and ripped it past Sanchez for his brace and a 3-2 Sockers lead at 3:07.

gain, the lead was short-lived, as this time San Diego was whistled for a blue card on a Brandon Escoto handball with 8:37 left in the third quarter. On the ensuing power play, Adrian Gutierrez’s pass through the box from the left to the right-wing found an unmarked Brambila on the far post for the tap-in goal and 3-3 tie at 6:35 of the quarter.

The Sockers’ third blue card of the third quarter, this time is shown to Cesar Romero for four fouls in the quarter, gave the Cal Express the chance to take the lead. It was a smooth conversion, as Gutierrez curved a pass from the left high post to the right low post for Gerardo Jurado, who took a bouncing touch before rifling his shot past Pardo and into the left side netting for his fifth goal of the season. The tally at 13:12 held up for the rest of the quarter, and the Express led 4-3 with fifteen minutes to play.

When Romero saw another blue for a reckless tackle just 21 seconds into the fourth quarter, Cal dreamed of the chance for a defining goal. Instead, off a power-play deflection, Luis “Peewee” Ortega found a loose ball up the middle and pounced for a short-handed breakaway. Peewee dribbled in and deked to the right, committing the keeper before slotting his third goal of the season into the left side netting. At 1:05 of the fourth quarter, the match was tied at 4-4.

Following the Pittman and Ortega tallies, Ivan Campos closed the scoring with a six attackers goal, lofting a rebounded shot past Pardo at 11:43 of the final quarter. Pardo was credited with seven saves in his fourth win of the season, while defender Emmanuel Aguirre led the Sockers with three blocked shots out of the team’s total of eight for the match.

San Diego returns home on Sunday evening to open a four-match homestand when they welcome in the Tacoma Stars (2-2) for a 5:05pm kickoff.