The Sockers enter every match with a host of attackers who can beat you from anywhere on the floor, but it’s the club’s defense that defines its dominance.
San Diego (6-0, 17 points) shut out the visiting Kansas City Comets for over 40 minutes, building a four-goal lead they would not relinquish in a 7-3 win, the Sockers’ sixth straight this season and 26th in a row in the MASL regular season. Defending Goalkeeper of the Year Boris Pardo stopped 13-of-16 shots faced to control a physical match from start to finish.
“When we all get together--with the players we have in back—I know they can fill in those (defensive) gaps,” said Pardo, who is leading the league in wins (6) and goals-against average (3.18), “Those guys stood on their head and made a lot of the key blocks we needed.”
The Sockers are streaking in a number of positive directions. They have won ten straight matches in all competitions, dating back to last season’s Ron Newman Cup playoffs. At home, the club has won 14 straight. Overall, 26 in a row in the regular season. Dating back to 2021, the club has not lost in regulation in 47 straight matches (43-0-4).
Brandon Escoto netted a pair of goals for the San Diego attack, while Leonardo de Oliveira battled through injury to post three assists. Cesar Cerda, Kraig Chiles, Charlie Gonzalez, Juan Manuel Rojo, and Tavoy Morgan all scored single goals for the Sockers.
A scoreless first quarter wasn’t for lack of trying, as both the Sockers and Comets put on an entertaining show with action at both ends and even better defense. Both clubs hit the crossbar, with Lucas Souza doing the honors for Kansas City (4-4-2, 12 points) and Felipe Gonzalez for San Diego. Both Pardo and the Comets’ Nicolau Neto (16-of-21 saves) were put to the test at point-blank range and stood up to the test.
The scoreless tie was finally broken in the 24th minute on a play of artistry out of nowhere. Leo, dealing with a lower-body injury that was limiting his explosive burst, orchestrated a perfect give-and-go with Cesar Cerda from just outside the crease. Cerda let the ball hop once before getting his laces through a left-footed smash at 8:09 for a 1-0 lead.
The physical nature of the match continued to ramp up as the Sockers worked up the floor a minute later, with Luis “Peewee” Ortega taking the first of two card-worthy hard fouls in the frame. As Peewee crumbled, head official Shane Butler properly played advantage to Brandon Escoto’s attack on the right wing. Escoto’s initial left-footed shot-pass was blocked but he pounced on the loose ball right-footed, slotting left-side netting at 9:32 for his fifth goal of the year and a 2-0 edge.
The Comets came into the match averaging over nine minutes of penalty time per match and lived up to their billing with a series of reckless fouls in the middle of the match. San Diego had
three power plays in the second and third quarters and converted two in a row to take hold of the match for good. First, Leo Gibson’s handball in the zone-stopping a sure Tavoy Morgan goal led to a penalty kick. The honor was given to the club captain, and Kraig Chiles made no mistake from the spot for a 3-0 lead just 23 seconds into the third quarter.
The Sockers had another power play on top of the PK, and saw Escoto served a perfect ball from Morgan on the right wing for a laser of a goal and a 4-0 scoreline at 1:24. Kansas City finally answered with Christian Anderaos’ goal at 10:48, but Leo and Charlie Gonzalez teamed up on a lovely shot from inside at 13:33 to set the third quarter score at 5-1.
Kansas City spent much of the fourth quarter in six attacker formation, and San Diego added to the fun with three fourth-quarter blue card penalties. Seeing multiple minutes of two-man disadvantage, the Sockers conceded only once while scoring twice against six attackers, including Tavoy Morgan’s goal at 13:46, his first home goal of the season.
“It feels good to finally get one and dance in front of our fans,” said Morgan, who had scored hat tricks in both his road matches but had been shut out three times at home, “I feel happy, I feel ready again.”
The Sockers saw thirteen shots from the Comets in the fourth quarter but kept their cool on defense, a trait veteran defender Guerrero Pino ascribes to Pardo’s leadership.
“His personality, his ability to make saves out of nowhere, and his leadership. He’s a monster out there, that’s all I can say.”
San Diego now hits the road for back-to-back matches in Pennsylvania next weekend, taking on the Harrisburg Heat for a Saturday 4:00pm match and Sunday 2:00pm affair from the Farm Show Arena in Harrisburg. The Sockers are holding a watch party at the Dana on Mission Bay for the Saturday match, free to the public starting at 3:30. San Diego returns home on January 29 for a showdown with the Chihuahua Savage. Tickets are available by going to sdsockers.com or calling (866) 799-GOAL