SOCKERS OUTLAST FURY IN SHOOTOUT WIN
With another furious comeback, the Sockers completed a 4-0 road trip in the most unlikely of ways, scoring three straight goals in the fourth quarter to force overtime, before beating the Ontario Fury 8-7 in a shootout. Kraig Chiles and Brandon Escoto scored in the three-round OT shootout for a 2-0 result, as the Fury shot wide on both their chances.
The Sockers (7-0-1, 19 points) rallied from first-half deficits of 3-0 and 5-1, and dug out of a fourth-quarter 7-4 hole. Juan Manuel Rojo, Escoto, and Tavoy Morgan netted in the closing minutes to draw the match even. Escoto and Morgan both scored with a sixth attacker on the field.
“We had a really sluggish start, and they caught us (off guard),” said Chiles, who had two assists for his 598th and 599th career points, “We just had to slowly work our way back into the game. We had a really good fourth, kept our cool, and stayed in the game.”
The fourth quarter changed after a pair of injuries. Fury keeper Chris Toth took a shot to the side of his head on a direct kick three minutes into the frame. The Sockers scored on the rebound to cut the lead to 6-5, but the goal was waved off after minutes of discussion. Ontario head coach Jimmy Nordberg was shown a red card for arguing the play, even though the refs eventually came around to his side of the argument. The goal was eliminated, and three minutes later, Jorge DeLeon of the Fury netted to make the score 7-4.
In between, Fury midfielder Willie Spurr suffered a lower-body injury and needed to be helped from the field with 9:12 remaining. During the same timeout, goalkeeper Claysson de Lima replaced Toth in net. The Sockers upped their defensive pressure, and Chiles was able to find defender Juan Manuel Rojo (two goals, assist) in front of the net for a clean goal, chopping the deficit to 7-5.
San Diego called timeout with four minutes remaining to put Charlie Gonzalez on the floor as a sixth attacker. It took only fifteen seconds to find another goal, with Chiles working the ball out of the corner to Escoto in the crease at 11:45. After regaining possession with 2:36 left, the Sockers got the sixth attacker back on the floor. With under 90 seconds to play, Escoto pressured the goal from the left corner and lured de Lima out of his crease. The ball bounded through traffic to Morgan, who was able to slam home his team-leading 13th goal of the season, forcing overtime.
“It doesn’t matter the score, when these guys click, they can really go,” said Gonzalez of the team’s tenacity with six attackers, “No one shies away from anything.”
A scoreless overtime followed, but not without one final controversy. Morgan was dragged down from behind with :23.7 seconds remaining, leading to the only blue card of the night against Ontario, and a shootout power play. The Sockers decided to give Brandon Escoto the shootout attempt, but he was forced to wait almost two minutes before the whistle blew to attack the goal, as official Kelly Mock focused on whether or not defenders were trying to encroach the midfield stripe. After the prolonged delay, Escoto failed to get a shot on the net, and time expired in overtime, leading to a three-round shootout.
In the shootout, Ontario’s Thiago Goncalves and Justin Stinson both missed wide left with their chances, while Chiles and Escoto each found the left side of the net smoothly, finishing off the win.
The first quarter was all Ontario (5-4, 15 points), as the Sockers offense lacked possession or danger, while the Fury were picking out corners with long shots. Left with too much space on right wing, Jorge DeLeon decided to let one fly in the second minute from the yellow line, and smacked the left-side netting for a convincing goal and a 1-0 lead at 1:33.
Shortly thereafter, Sockers midfielder Andy Reyes was pressured in the defensive corner and turned over the ball to Jorge Pacheco, who was able to turn unmarked on goal from inside 15 feet. Pacheco’s sidewinding shot eluded Pardo to his right, and suddenly the score was 2-0 Ontario.
San Diego was shown a blue card with 1:59 left in the first quarter, and the Fury would make the most of their power play opportunity. Cycling the ball around the perimeter, Ontario’s Thiago Goncalves spotted Juan Topete open at the middle of the yellow line, and his long shot found the corner netting in the final minute, putting the Fury ahead 3-0 after one quarter of play.
On a scramble play just 20 seconds into the second quarter, a ball deflected off both Franck and Uzi Tayou, with Uzi’s nudge pushing the ball just past Pardo for a 4-0 lead. The Sockers pulled one back on a 2-v-1 counter, with Juan Manuel Rojo slotting a centering pass to Christian Gutierrez, who netted his eighth goal of the season, extending his goal-scoring streak to five straight matches.
While San Diego was directing their attention to the officials, complaining on non-calls, the Fury moved down and scored again. Justin Stinson swerved his way in on right wing and beat Pardo with a shot inside the near post, re-establishing a four-goal advantage at 5-1.
The Sockers pulled one back in the final seconds of the half, as Tavoy Morgan’s pressure steal allowed him to come in on net from close range. His pass deflected to Charlie Gonzalez, who was in front of an open net point-blank for his fifth goal of the year. The score was 5-2 Ontario at the half.
Rojo and Guerrero Pino netted third-quarter goals to narrow the deficit to 5-4, before Nestor Hernandez restored a measure of order for Ontario with a goal at 12:52 of the period.
The Sockers are now 5-0 on the road, and have won three straight games in overtime. San Diego returns home to take on the Tacoma Stars on Friday night, a 7:35pm kickoff at Pechanga Arena San Diego. It’s Star Wars Night, with the team in Mandalorian-themed jerseys. Tickets are available at sdsockers.com/tickets