by Craig Elsten/Sockers

SAN DIEGO, CA - Charlie Gonzalez scored the equalizing goal with 22.3 seconds remaining, allowing the San Diego Sockers to reach golden goal overtime, where the Ontario Fury prevailed 8-7 on Sunday night at Pechanga Arena San Diego. Ontario (3-2, 8 points) rallied from deficits of 5-1 and 6-4 to pull two points out of San Diego, while the Sockers (3-0-1, 10 points) salvage a point with the OT loss.

"It’s good that it’s only a one-point difference in the standings, we’re pleased to have a point out of this,” said head coach Phil Salvagio of the loss. 

Juan Carlos “Charlie” Gonzalez delivered the sting as a sixth attacker, taking a stutter-step at the top of the crease to work past Nestor Hernandez, before rocketing a shot into the top-right back corner of the net. Gonzalez’s fourth goal of the year allowed the Sockers to remain in first place in the MASL West by two points.

“That was huge,” said captain Kraig Chiles of the equalizer, “We stayed patient and waited for that one good chance, and Charlie took care of it.”

The salvage job came in a game dominated by Ontario in the second half, as the Fury rallied from a 5-2 halftime deficit to win. Overwhelming time of possession and game flow, the Fury out-shot San Diego 17-5 in the second half and overtime, and 31-13 overall in the match. 

Jorge DeLeon scored the golden goal 31 seconds into overtime, striding in unchallenged on the right-wing before slipping and falling to the goal wall while attempting to pass. DeLeon got up to see the ball still loose and stepped onto it, firing a left-footed shot into the upper corner for the game-winner. 

“It was a great game at the end of the day,” said Salvagio, “We let our guard down. We made mistakes coaching-wise and playing-wise and in the indoor game, it’s never over.”

The Sockers used pressure defense and opportunistic scoring to build an early lead. The first quarter ended in a 1-1 tie, with Kraig Chiles and Ontario’s Jeff Hughes exchanging goals. Chiles’ score, a header off a lovely cross-field pass from Mitchell Cardenas (two assists), was his 591st career point (combined PASL and MASL scoring). 

San Diego stepped up the defense and saw the ball pop loose for multiple second-quarter scoring opportunities. After Tavoy Morgan gave the Sockers the lead with his fourth goal of the season, Christian Gutierrez burst loose for back-to-back scores. The second, a short-handed goal from Cardenas at 7:21 of the second, made it 3-1 San Diego. 

Morgan’s second goal of the half, a power-play score from Leonardo de Oliveira (three assists), put San Diego in seeming control at 5-1. From there, the Sockers sat back and let Ontario press the attack in the defensive zone. Jesus Pacheco’s goal, coming off the rebound of a Franck Tayou shot saved by Pardo, cut the lead to 5-2 at 11:55. 

The Fury controlled the second half almost entirely. Justin Stinson made a silky move to his left foot for a gorgeous individual goal at 2:42 of the third to cut the lead to 5-3, and 2:05 later, Juan Topete’s wall pass deflected off the foot of San Diego defender Guerrero Pino for an own goal. Topete was given credit for his second of the year, and it was suddenly a 5-4 scoreline. 

The Sockers seemed to turn the match around in the fourth thanks to stellar goalkeeping. Pardo (14 saves) stopped three point-blank chances in a row from Ontario’s Willie Spurr while seated in the crease. The clearance of the scramble found Tavoy Morgan, who looped a pass over the top to Brandon Escoto in the left corner. The Tijuanense midfielder smoked a shot bar-down and in for his fourth goal of the season, and at 6:18 San Diego had seemingly regained control with a 6-4 lead. 

The control would evaporate quickly, as the Sockers continued to sit back and invite the attack. Stinson scored again to make it 6-5, and then Topete ran on a loose ball up the middle and crashed it home, tying the score 6-6 at 10:05. Robert Palmer’s goal off a steal at 13:37 put San Diego behind for the first time at 7-6, forcing the sixth attacker to the field, and leading to the equalizer and overtime. 

Having concluded a three-match homestand, the Sockers now face a four-match road trip, starting next Sunday with a 3pm match at Toyota Arena against the Fury. 

“It’s a series, and the next game is big,” said Salvagio, “You need to go 2-1 to win the series, and whoever wins the next match will be in control of our division.”

San Diego will travel to Chihuahua for back-to-back matches on January 21 and 22, before facing Ontario once more on January 26. The Sockers will return home on January 28 to face Tacoma at 7:35pm. Tickets for that match, “Star Wars Night”, are available at sdsockers.com/tickets