Sockers Win OT Shootout Thriller Over Wave 6-5
It was billed as the potential MASL match of the year, and boy was it ever.
Two legacy franchises with 22 combined championships battled through 70 minutes of game play and four shootout rounds, before Kraig Chiles’ second goal of shootouts proved the game-winner in a San Diego Sockers 6-5 victory over the defending Ron Newman Cup champion Milwaukee Wave on Saturday night at Pechanga Arena San Diego.
“I think we put together a pretty complete game,” said Chiles of the extra effort victory, “It was a good team effort and a great win for the organization.”
A game overstocked with storylines played out in dramatic fashion in front of a season-best crowd of 4,081 in San Diego. The Sockers took leads of 1-0 and 2-1, built out to a third quarter 4-1 advantage, and led 5-3 after 45 minutes. Long-time Wave stars Max Ferdinand and Marcio Leite scored in the fourth quarter for Milwaukee (12-5), with Leite’s hat trick goal at 10:42 tying the score 5-5.
San Diego had glorious opportunities in the fourth quarter and early in overtime to score, only to be thwarted by Milwaukee keeper Joey Kapinos, who excelled with 16 saves, several acrobatic and clutch late. In shootouts, it was time for San Diego’s keeper to shine, as Pardo knocked away shootout tries from Luan Sales Oliveira and Ian Bennett to secure the victory.
“I’m always completely confident,” said Pardo of the pressure of shootouts, “This club (the Sockers) has me here for a reason, they put their trust in me and I always feel like I can make the big save.”
San Diego came out with a defensive posture, sitting back behind the midfield line to invite Milwaukee possession. The Wave dominated the opening 15 minutes but couldn’t find the back of the net, thwarted by tenacious Sockers defensive attention in the final third.
The reward for all of the defensive hard work came in the closing seconds of the opening quarter. In a quick pinball barrage that was classic arena soccer, Brian Farber got away two straight shots, with his header blocked back to him by Kapinos. Farber got off a bouncing second chance, which ambled home with 1.4 seconds left on the clock for an unlikely 1-0 San Diego lead.
The Sockers knew they needed to avoid blue cards against the Milwaukee power play, but a Taylor Bond elbow near the attacking goal wall early in the second quarter put San Diego a man down. Leite made short work of it, calmly waiting for his lane before shooting inside the right post and under Pardo for a 1-1 tie at 4:22. It was the 24th power-play goal of the year for the Wave.
San Diego had an answer, courtesy of a spectacular run by Leonardo de Oliveira. Fed the ball by Guerrero Pino, de Oliveira used a series of fakes, sole rolls and a cut inside to free himself for a wicked right-footed volley, which twisted across the frame of goal, raked the inside of the left post and bounced into the net off the right side netting for his 13th goal of the year. The Sockers led 2-1 at 8:11 of the second quarter, and carried the lead into halftime behind a number of quality saves by Pardo.
The newest San Diego Socker made a memorable debut in the third quarter. Gerardo Jurado, a Tijuana native and Chula Vista resident acquired by the Sockers on the trade deadline, got on the finishing end of a spectacular run by Guerrero Pino. The veteran defender stole a ball in the defensive zone, flew up the boards with two defenders on him, and laid off a perfect pass to Jurado, who had jumped off the bench to work the middle. Jurado slotted home his first goal as a Socker and tenth of the year overall, pushing San Diego ahead 3-1 at 2:34.
Leo’s second, a cheeky chip over Kapinos at 6:22, gave the Sockers a 4-1 advantage. Derek Huffman and Leite clawed back a pair for Milwaukee at 12:19 and 14:18 respectively, but Pino’s precise long distribution just seconds later found the toe of Chiles, who lifted in his 20th goal of the season at 14:30 for a critical answer and a 5-3 lead.
The fourth quarter saw the defending champion Wave show their heart and quality, with Ferdinand and Leite each scoring goals after breaking down defenders with world-class one-on-one moves. San Diego thought they had found a game-winner in between, but Kapinos somehow held a ball off the line that Taylor Bond struck from just inches off the goal.
After both clubs saw quality opportunities come up wanting in the extra ten minutes, it came to shootouts. Leite and Chiles each marked in the first round before Pardo came up with a stop of Luan Oliveira’s attempt. Leo was blocked by Kapinos, and Ferdinand slotted calmly to put Milwaukee ahead 2-1 in the shootout.
The game rested on the foot of Slavisa Ubiparipovic, who had suffered through a rough contest, with a crossbar hit and a handful of defensive giveaways. With all the pressure on, Slav struck crossbar again, but this time on the right angle for the ball to bounce in for the equalizer.
Pardo knocked Ian Bennett’s shot away in the shootout’s fourth round, guaranteeing a scoreless night for the man who was coming off a six-goal performance. It was down to Chiles, who wasn’t even sure he could shoot.
“I was checking (with the officials) and they kind of sprung it on me and said ‘you can go again’, and I didn’t really have enough time to process or think about it,” said Chiles, “I was lucky enough to get it in the back of the net, and Slav’s crossbar down was pretty sick too.”
The Sockers will next host the Tacoma Stars on Sunday, March 8th, for Military Appreciation Night. Tickets are available at (866) 799-GOAL or online at SDSockers.com.