by Bill Norris

ONTARIO, CA - Juan Carlos Gonzalez had three goals and Maicon de Abreu added two more as the Ontario Fury strengthened its grasp on second place in the Major Arena Soccer League standings with a 7-6 victory over the Tacoma Stars at Toyota Arena in Ontario.

The two West Coast rivals traded blows throughout the night, as both sides employed a physical style in both teams’ second game of the five-game series at Toyota Arena.

That aggressive play helped launch the Stars into the early lead. Putting pressure on the Ontario defense, Tacoma took advantage of a misplayed clear off the boards, with the ball bouncing off Tacoma’s Alexander Caceres right to Philip Lund. Lund blasted a shot past Ontario goalkeeper Claysson de Lima for the 1-0 lead.

Another quick attack gave the Stars a 2-0 advantage, as Jamael Cox found Vini Dantas alone across the crease, and he slotted the ball home.

But Ontario drew even with two goals over a span of 32 seconds. Near the end of the first quarter, Tacoma cleared the ball out near midfield, where Jeff Hughes settled the ball and Robert Palmer blasted the ball low from 30 yards out. The ball deflected off a Tacoma defender and over the hands of Tacoma goalie Danny Waltman to make it 2-1 after one.

Ontario took advantage of having the second quarter kickoff with a set play, and they ran it as well as it was drawn up. Nestor Hernandez passed to Gonzalez, who tapped it back to Hernandez, running from the right wall to the middle. He quickly passed to de Abreu, who beat Waltman to the short side for a tie game.

After Dantas and Cox hooked up to give the Tars the lead back, the Fury got a break to tie it going into the half. An errant pass backward by the stars was gathered by Gonzalez, who raced in alone and beat Waltman with a shot to the far goalpost.

Ontario took the lead about midway through the third, as Franck Tayou broke through, banging home a pass off the boards from Christian Alvardo for a 4-3 lead after three.

The two teams traded goals in the fourth, with de Abreu notching his second – then feeding Gonzalez for his second. Gonzalez completed his hat trick, again intercepting an errant pass and putting it home.

Caceres ended the game with a goal and assist for the Stars, while player/coach Nick Perera had three assists for the Stars.

Ontario will be back in action Saturday, as they will play the San Diego Sockers at 5 p.m. at Toyota Arena. Tacoma will take on the Sockers at 3 p.m. Sunday to close out the five-game series.