by Craig Elsten/Sockers

CHIHUAHUA, MX. - Edgar “Torrez” Gonzalez curved in his second goal of the match, a golden goal on the power play 36 seconds into overtime, as the Chihuahua Savage beat the San Diego Sockers 7-6 on Monday night in front of a sellout crowd at Corner Sport Arena in Chihuahua, putting the Sockers on the brink of playoff elimination.

The Savage snapped San Diego’s 22-match winning streak, taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three Ron Newman Cup semifinals. Match Two is set for Sunday at Pechanga Arena, where the Sockers will need not only to prevail, but then to win a subsequent 15-minute match, in order to defend their championship in the Finals.

A wildly entertaining match saw seven lead changes, with the lead never going beyond a single goal. Chihuahua’s Adrian Miller scored his second goal of the match at 10:09 of the fourth quarter to give the Savage a 6-5 lead. Pressing to tie, the Sockers attempted to bring a sixth attacker on the field with 1:18 remaining, but Cesar Cerda came out early, and San Diego was shown a blue card for too many men on the field.

Short-handed, the Sockers pulled keeper Boris Pardo to bring the field players back to five-on-five, and then created a bit of “Sockers Magic”. After a foul created a left-wing free-kick with 14 seconds remaining, captain Kraig Chiles picked out the upper-right corner and slammed home his second goal of the match, dramatically tying the score at 6-6 to force overtime against the run of play.

The power play continued into overtime, however, and “Torrez” called for the ball on an Erick Ponce return pass from right wing, measuring his curving strike perfectly. The ball bent around defender Mitchell Cardenas and past keeper Boris Pardo’s diving try with three seconds left on the power play to create Chihuahua’s first win this season in five tries against the Sockers.

San Diego played without their top three scoring midfielders, as Leonardo de Oliveira (lower-body injury), Brandon Escoto (lower-body injury), and Charlie Gonzalez (visa) were all unavailable for selection. In addition, top sub Hiram “Pollo” Ruiz turned an ankle in pregame and was limited.

Roberto Escalante scored the only goal of the first quarter for Chihuahua at 14:11, taking advantage of a momentary lapse in the corner. A loose ball was bobbled by Juan Manuel Rojo to the toe of Escalante, who fired at point-blank range for a 1-0 lead.

Ismael Rojo—unable to play for the Sockers in the US due to visa issues—made his first appearance all year for the top club in this Mexico semifinal, and earned his first Sockers goal on a restart at 2:03 of the second quarter from Chiles for a 1-1 tie. Rojo would finish with a goal and two assists.

Adrian Miller’s first of the match at 4:57 of the second made it 2-1 Chihuahua, but Cesar Cerda (assist Ismael Rojo) netted just six seconds later to equalize, and 21 seconds after that, it was Tavoy Morgan from “Pollo” for a 3-2 San Diego lead at 5:24. Seconds later it looked like the Sockers may have another, but a long shot outside was stopped by Savage keeper Berna Valdovinos, doing the splits to pin the ball on the line. He jumped up and winged a pass to “Torrez”, who scissored his shot into the top-V for a 3-3 tie at 6:23.

The match remained tied 3-3 into halftime, as the Sockers defused a Chihuahua power play earned on a replay challenge with 17 seconds left in the second quarter. The third frame wound up scoreless, but with one second remaining it was San Diego head coach Phil Salvagio’s turn to throw his flag, earning a blue card on replay review for a Roberto Escalante charge. The Sockers made quick work of the penalty, as Christian Gutierrez scored 24 seconds into the fourth quarter for a 4-3 lead.

Carlos “Poper” Hernandez, a powerful shooting defender, netted goals eighteen seconds apart at 4:02 and 4:20 to give Chihuahua a 5-4 advantage. Chiles scored his first of the night on a quick-strike turnaround off an Ismael Rojo steal, tying the score at 5-5 at 7:26. Miller’s rooftop goal at 10:09 set up the late dramatics, and it was Chihuahua tearing off their jerseys in jubilant celebration at the end, just one step from a Finals appearance in the club’s first season of MASL play.

The Sockers now have their backs against the wall for Sunday’s return leg, knowing they will need to beat the Savage twice in the same night, beginning with Game Two at 5:05pm from Pechanga Arena. Tickets are available at or by calling (866) 799-GOAL.