SOCKERS SPOIL SAVAGE HOME OPENER, 6-5 IN OT
Hiram “Pollo” Ruiz scored four goals in his season debut for the San Diego Sockers, including the overtime game-winner 32 seconds into overtime, as the Sockers pulled a 6-5 overtime win out of the Corner Sport Arena in Chihuahua on Friday night. The Sockers spoiled the Savage home opener in front of a raucous crowd, emerging with a 3-0 road record to start the 2021-22 Major Arena Soccer League season.
As often happens in indoor soccer, the winning play bounced like a pinball out of nowhere. Goalkeeper Boris Pardo’s long throw deflected off the leaping header attempt of Chihuahua defender Adrian Miller to the foot of Ruiz, who was charging down the right-wing. His one-touch shot dribbled past keeper Berna Valdovinos for the deciding score.
San Diego (5-0-1) equalized with 52 seconds left in regulation courtesy of forward Tavoy Morgan’s team-leading ninth goal of the season, finishing a wall pass from Brandon Escoto with six attackers on the field. The Sockers held leads of 2-0 and 4-2, but trailed 5-4 in the fourth quarter after three straight goals from Chihuahua, powered by the four-goal, five-point effort of the Savage’s Jorge “Pareja” Ríos.
Playing without midfielders Leonardo de Oliveira and Juan Carlos “Charlie” Gonzalez as well as top defender Guerrero Pino, and facing a Savage side well fortified by veteran acquisitions from Monterrey and Sonora, the Sockers were put to the test on every level. While official save totals were not available at time of print, Pardo made multiple key stops in the net to hold San Diego in the match until the offense could provide the late fireworks.
The Savage’s home opener was a showcase for the beauty and excitement of indoor soccer and a reminder that the home team can’t always get the win. The Sockers overcame the emotion of the opening ceremonies, grabbing a 2-0 lead in the opening quarter on the effort of “Pollo”. Ruiz first finished a back-post past from Cesar Cerda at 1:52 of the match, then made a beautiful run up the right wall for an unassisted goal at 13:37 for the two-goal lead.
Chihuahua got the crowd into it behind “Pareja”, as Jorge Ríos began his domination of the scoreboard with back-to-back goals at 5:19 and 9:33 of the second quarter, finishing assists from Uriel Zuart and Brayan Aguilar respectively. The match was tied 2-2 at halftime.
The Sockers took advantage of a Chihuahua penalty in the third quarter, scoring a power-play goal on their only opportunity of the match. After Bryan Aguilar was shown a blue card for contact above the shoulder, San Diego’s power play went to work. The Savage’s Roberto Escalante attempted to clear a loose ball out of the box, but his clearance was deflected by Brandon Escoto to Christian Gutierrez in the crease, who beat keeper Berna Valdovinos at point-blank range for a 3-2 lead.
Pollo knocked home a left-wing feed from Kraig Chiles on a top-arc set piece to make it 4-2 at 6:36 of the third quarter. The assist was Chiles’ 594th career point combined between PASL and MASL play.
The Savage made their run at victory behind Puentes and Ríos. Jorge Ríos scored twice and assisted on the sandwich goal as Chihuahua scored three straight to gain their first lead of the match, 5-4 at 7:35 of the fourth. The Sockers were stymied until a side-wall clearance allowed them to pull Pardo for a sixth attacker with 1:01 remaining. Morgan found an open ball to speak for the only time in the match, and Ruiz made sure the rest was history.