Sockers Turn Up The Heat In Win Over Harrisburg

On the road, veteran teams turn to their leaders. The San Diego Sockers have the right kind of leaders to point the way to victory. The formula proved successful once again on Friday night at the New Holland Arena in Harrisburg, as Brian Farber and Kraig Chiles combined for five goals in a 7-5 win over the Heat.

Farber scored the last three goals for San Diego (9-1), including an empty-netter in the final second to cinch the win. The Sockers have now won nine in a row overall, and 19 straight MASL regular-season road matches dating back to January 28, 2018, a 6-3 loss in Monterrey.

“Our whole mantra right now is to support each other, be a team, be one,” said Farber of the Sockers’ road acumen, “We’re on a six-match road trip, we have to. Tonight was the start of that."

While the Heat (7-4) proved a worthy opponent throughout a tense and competitive match, San Diego leaned on fundamentals to work through a solid first half. After conceding the night’s first goal to Harrisburg’s William Eskey, the Sockers answered back two minutes later as Chiles drew a foul along the left wall. On the ensuing free kick, Chiles’ shot from the wing deflected off a defender’s ankle and in for a 1-1 tie at 10:12. The game remained tied 1-1 after one quarter.

An early second quarter defensive clearance against the host Heat gave San Diego a top-of-the-arc free kick, and it would be Chiles again, this time circling over the ball before twisting a wicked shot into the upper-right corner for a 2-1 lead at 2:15.

Harrisburg’s Nelson Santana found room in the crease for a turning skipper at 6:24 to level the score at two, but the tie would last less than a minute. Pressuring in the right corner of the offensive zone, San Diego’s Slavisa Ubiparipovic forced a steal before chipping Heat keeper William Benehane softly for his tenth goal of the season, putting the Sockers up 3-2 at the 7:12 mark. The score held through the halftime buzzer.

While the Sockers defense worked hard all night to limited talented Heat scorers Dominic Francis and J.J. Gibson (one goal combined), free kicks proved to be a critical part of the scoring. Working a corner kick out of the left corner, Chiles waited for defender Cesar Cerda to make a perfectly timed run into the box before rolling him the ball for a side-foot finish into the net. Cerda’s fifth goal of the year and third in two matches made it 4-2 San Diego at 6:12 of the third quarter.

Then, it was time for Farber to take over the offense. As the Sockers attacked on a 3-on-2 rush from midfield, Farber raced in from the right wing as Emmanuel Aguirre pressured the middle of the crease. Aguirre’s bid went off the left goal wall, but Farber bent across the play to find the loose ball, tucking it home at 12:42 for a 5-2 advantage.

Harrisburg would not bow, netting twice to narrow the gap to 5-4 with goals from Tom Mellor and Francis at 13:45 of the third and 2:10 of the fourth (Francis on the power play). Next, a critical whistle on Benehane for tripping outside his crease gifted the Sockers a shootout power play. Brandon Escoto hovered over the ball, but as the whistle sounded, he crept in slowly on the right wing, waiting for the racing Farber to take the left wing. The tiptoe pass was poked home by Farber for the power-play score, and a 6-4 lead with 5:54 left.

“We were on the same page, he gave me a look and it was on,” said Farber of the play, “If it wasn’t there or it wasn’t on I’d have been happy to see Brandon shoot it, but he gave me the look, I gave him the look, and it was on."

A sixth-attacker goal by Elton de Oliveira gave the Heat hope once more with 1:58 remaining, but Farber’s late hat-trick score put the icing on San Diego’s third road win of the season in three tries.

The Sockers travel on to Baltimore for a Saturday night showdown with the 5-5 Blast. The match can be viewed on MASL.TV starting at 3:00pm PST.