First place in the MASL met second place on Friday night in San Diego as the Kansas City Comets (10-3-1, 32 pts) faced the San Diego Sockers (14-0-1, 39 pts) for an encounter that was physical from the first to the final whistle. Tavoy Morgan, Brandon Escoto, and Leonardo “ El Mágico” De Oliveira combined for all eight of San Diego’s goals en route to a 8-3 victory. Kraig Chiles was critical as well along the way as the captain added four assists.
The match, however, also was marred by fouls. The teams combined for 32 fouls and 22 cards, including three red cards shown. Ramone Palmer and Nick Mcdonald were both sent off for Kansas City in the 4th for receiving three cards throughout the game, and Guerrero Pino was sent off for the Sockers when he headbutted Mcdonald after a malicious tackle.
The first half saw both teams playing fastback and forth with Boris Pardo and Lou Misner for San Diego and Kansas City, respectively, doing their best to keep the ball out of their nets. Misner faced 19 shots in the first half and looked fantastic going into the half at 2-2. Pardo, on the other side, was content with the defensive effort in front of him as the Sockers were blocking shots and making life easier on him than his counterpart.
The game would shift heavily in favor of San Diego in the third quarter as the offense erupted, winning the quarter 4-0 and outshooting the Comets 11-2. Chiles had his fingerprints all over the third, with three of his four assists coming in that quarter. In the fourth quarter, though, is when things got ugly, and 12 of the 22 cards would be shown here.
Escoto would complete his hat-trick and get another, both coming on the power play, to cement the contest before Christian Duke would pull back a late one for Kansas City. However, the talking point coming out of the game that would have ramifications for Sunday’s contest would come with 35 seconds left. Nick Mcdonald would come in wildly on a slide tackle on Guerrero Pino and wipe him out. Pino would get up from that and get in Mcdonald’s face and headbutt him. Both players rightfully were booked, Mcdonald getting a blue and yellow for the tackle, which led to his red and Pino receiving a straight red card.
For his actions in headbutting Mcdonald, Pino will be unavailable for Sunday’s contest against the Milwaukee Wave, and the Sockers will have to wait until the disciplinary committee reviews the incident to see if he will miss additional games. Looking at past altercations in similar situations, Pino will most likely receive an additional game, but that is not certain as of this publishing.
With the win, the Sockers, first in the MASL, now lead the Comets by seven points, with both teams having nine games left to play in the season. The Florida Tropics, who come to San Diego on March 31st, are currently eight points behind the Sockers but also have three games in hand on San Diego and will be looking to make that ground upon them. First place in the MASL Regular Season will give the team a home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, including the Ron Newman Cup Finals. Also, to note, San Diego has a formidable 17 point lead on the Ontario Fury in the west, with Ontario having two games in hand on the Sockers currently. The winner of the Western Division will be guaranteed a top-three seed in the MASL playoffs.
The weekend is not over for San Diego, as previously mentioned, with the current MASL champions taking on the champions before them in the Milwaukee Wave Sunday at 5:05 PM PST. Tickets are still available on the Sockers website and at the ticket booth at Pechanga Arena. You can also watch online on the MASL YouTube page where Craig Elsten and Nate Aburrera will be on the call.