X-Win Formation On Star Wars Night

On Star Wars Night, a new hope emerged in net for the San Diego Sockers.

Xavier Snaer-Williams made his pro starting debut a night to remember, collecting 16 saves in a 9-3 romp over the Tacoma Stars on Friday night at Pechanga Arena San Diego. Sockers captain Kraig Chiles scored his 600th career point on a first-quarter shootout goal, and Tavoy Morgan had a goal with three assists to power the San Diego offense.

The Sockers (8-0-1) played without starting keeper Boris Pardo, who was suspended by the MASL for two matches on Thursday afternoon after video review of a fourth-quarter collision in Wednesday’s win over Ontario. Snaer-Williams, who had played just 1:07 of action coming into the match, made a two-handed leaping save early in the first quarter for his first career stop, and never looked back.

Snaer-Williams found out about his starting assignment late on Wednesday and immediately opened his laptop to study.

“Film, film, film!”, said an ebullient rookie keeper after the match, “Thankfully, it paid off.”

The positive energy of the match was palpable, starting with a big crowd out to enjoy and bid upon Mandalorian-themed Star Wars jerseys, whose auction benefited San Diego Food Bank. It continued with the presence of Chavos de Loyal, the local supporters group that packed Section 19 behind the western goal, singing and banging drums all night to sustain the feel.

Playing their fourth match in eight days, the Sockers took control of the match quickly, scoring five goals in the opening quarter. Brandon Escoto got the scoring started with his seventh goal of the year, sitting on back post for a return pass from Tavoy Morgan, who had collected the rebound of his own missed shot at 6:59. Morgan set a personal high in the match with three assists.

Defender Juan Manuel Rojo’s breakout season continued with his second straight two-goal match, collecting a point-blank goal on a corner assist from Escoto at 8:45 of the first. Moments later, Tacoma keeper Danny Waltman was called for a handball outside his crease, and a shootout penalty was awarded.

Up stepped Chiles, the long-time Sockers captain, three-time MVP, and five-time champion. He took one touch with the sole of his right foot forward before calmly slotting a curving strike past Waltman inside the right post for his 7th goal of the season, 419th of his career, and his 600th career point combined between the PASL and MASL.

“I’m grateful, blessed, and fortunate to score 600 points,” said Chiles after the match, “I’m proud to be able to do it for the best indoor soccer franchise in the country, and the city I was raised in. It’s a collective effort, and I’ve had nothing but support from my family, the organization, and my teammates.”

Leonardo de Oliveira and Charlie Gonzalez also netted goals before the opening quarter was over, with Tacoma’s lone tally coming on a back-post rebound put-away by Vini Dantas. The Sockers led 5-1 after 15 minutes, then worked a largely possession-oriented and defensive second quarter. Morgan’s 14th goal of the year from Charlie Gonzalez at 13:28 capped the clinical frame, which saw San Diego take a 6-1 lead into the halftime break.

The third opened with a bang, as Morgan plucked a loose ball out of a mid-crease scrum and back-heeled it in the crease to defender Cesar Cerda, who knocked home his first goal of the season just 11 seconds into the quarter for a 7-1 advantage.

The Stars (2-5, 0-2 road) would get two goals from defender Corey Keitz in the second half, but were unable to muster any consistent danger in the offensive zone, and never were able to overcome their sluggish first quarter.

With the competitive energy siphoned from the match, the story became the young man in net, and his first career start in the MASL. A one-handed diving save against Alex Caceres in the fourth quarter highlighted Snaer-Williams’ effort, which ended with a bear-hug embrace from Pardo on the field post-match. Xavier made a point to single out the defenders who made his debut a smooth one.

“It’s like we said in the locker room, ‘I carry them, they carry me’”, said Snaer-Williams, “We carry each other. That’s how we did it, that’s how we locked down Nick (Perera, scoreless on the night). We got the win, 9-3, can’t beat that!”

After one day of rest and recovery, the Sockers’ sojourn through an impacted schedule will conclude with a Sunday 5:05pm kickoff against Utica City FC (2-7). The match will wrap up a stretch of five matches in ten days, including three in the last five. Tickets are available at sdsockers.com.