The San Diego Sockers are one win away from clinching their 16th championship after their Ron Newman Cup finals Game 1 win Monday night, 6-3, over the Florida Tropics.
Tavoy Morgan enjoyed a brace in the first half, and his presence helped the Sockers dominate possession for much of the game. Boris Pardo and the San Diego defense showed why they were the top team throughout the regular season and why they haven’t lost in regulation all season with a masterclass in defending in all facets of the game.
The night started off with a bang as Victor Parreiras got the game started with a goal 63 seconds into the game on the first shot of the game. The Sockers then settled into the game, and both teams were physical early, trying to put their mark on the game. Shots were extremely tough to come by, but Charlie Gonzalez found Morgan wide open on a restart near goal to even things up.
The physicality of the game was at 11, and both teams were desperate to get their nose in front. Morgan would do just that for the Sockers early into the second quarter. Florida backed off of Charlie Gonzalez, and he lifted a pass to Morgan, who expertly controlled the ball and then hit the roof of the net on the second touch to give the Sockers their first lead of the game. The rest of the half would be a lot of half chances and fouls. The game would end with 28 combined fouls, as both teams would fail to score again before the end of the half.
After play resumed in the third, it was more of the same as San Diego and Florida both were playing physically throughout, and the Sockers were dominating possession throughout the quarter. The quarter would have no new twists, which were left for the last 15 minutes of the game.
The Tropics came out into the fourth and final quarter like a team on fire. Florida dominated possession and was pelting the San Diego goal with shots early. Zach Reget would tie the game up with a rip from the yellow line that left Pardo with no chance to block it. Florida would continue the pressure on the Sockers, and Reget would once again make his mark on the game four minutes later. After the ball was misplayed in the Sockers’ defensive area, no one could clear the ball, and Reget jumped on the loose ball to give Florida back the lead with ten minutes to go. Coach Phil Salvagio would use his challenge here to check for a foul in the fracas, but to no avail.
Captain Kraig Chiles would not be deterred in these moments. Twenty-four seconds after the second Reget goal, Chiles would get open and, after another fantastic Charlie Gonzalez pass, put the ball into the back of the net and tie the game. Chiles would help the Sockers strike once again just 52 seconds later. On a restart in the Florida zone, Chiles was able to find a wide-open Brandon Escoto, who headed the ball in from point-blank range to ultimately score the game-winning goal. Florida would press on for an equalizer but could not crack the Sockers’ defense.
The Tropics would pull their goalie, but Cesar Cerda and Guerrero Pino would make them pay by each scoring an empty-net goal. The game would end and put the Sockers back on the doorstep of history. Last year they were able to complete a full season on the road and bring home a title. This season they can potentially clinch the Ron Newman Cup on their home turf in front of the best fans in the MASL.
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