SOCKERS WIN 11TH STRAIGHT, DEFEAT COMETS 8-3
Brandon Escoto set a season-high with four goals and Kraig Chiles added four assists, as the San Diego Sockers used an seven-goal run to take firm control, beating the visiting Kansas City Comets 8-3 on Friday night at Pechanga Arena San Diego. The Sockers (14-0-1) claimed their 11th straight victory, moving seven points clear of the Comets for the top record in the MASL.
“It doesn’t matter that we’re number one (now),” said Escoto, who improved to (15-17=32) points on the season, “We work hard to get better and better every day, so we need to keep working to maintain that position.”
After a slow start, San Diego used a 4-0 third quarter to break loose of the Comets’ grasp. Leonardo de Oliveira scored twice in the frame, sandwiching Tavoy Morgan’s second goal of the night. Escoto closed the quarter with his first of three straight power-play goals. Boris Pardo earned his league-leading 11th victory in net, stopping 13 of 16 shots against.
The match was marred by twenty penalty cards, fourteen to the visitors. Ten cards were shown in the fourth quarter. Red cards were shown in the fourth quarter to Kansas City’s Ramone Palmer and Rian Marques, and to Guerrero Pino of the Sockers.
“Physicality and aggressiveness are part of the game,” said Escoto of the match’s contentious nature, “Our coaches asked us to stay focused, not get involved, and play, just play.”
The Comets (10-3-1) were without head coach and star player Leo Gibson, who stayed back in Kansas City in anticipation of the birth of his third child. Rian Marques scored a pair of goals, with Lucas Sousa adding his 15th of the year.
Kansas City grabbed the lead with the only goal of the first quarter, as Sousa’s shot from right-wing deflected off the foot of San Diego’s Christian Gutierrez, re-directing over the shoulder of goalkeeper Pardo unluckily for a 1-0 lead at 5:18.
The Comets were buoyed by the play of goalkeeper Lou Misner, who made eight saves in the first half, several of a spectacular variety. Misner made the first save on a set piece early in the second quarter, but Morgan was able to muscle his way through a crowd in the crease, getting his thigh on the ball to push it in net for his 20th goal of the season, leveling the score 1-1 at 1:09.
Marques and Escoto exchanged goals in the rest of the second quarter, with Brandon’s rebound shot deflecting off Marques on its way to the net for a 2-2 tie at 13:24. The deadlock held to the half, which featured former USWNT head coach Jill Ellis addressing the crowd in her new role as president of the NWSL’s San Diego Wave FC.
Leo netted his 100th career MASL goal at 7:53 from Chiles to put the Sockers ahead for the first time 3-2. In short succession, Leo, Morgan, and Escoto hit top bins on their next shots, powering the Sockers ahead by four. The fourth quarter saw Escoto score twice on the power play, and Marques wrap the scoring at 13:34.
San Diego awaits the Milwaukee Wave on Sunday for their next match, a 5:05pm scheduled kickoff at Pechanga Arena. Tickets are available at sdsockers.com/tickets