Kraig Chiles’ Hat Trick Leads Sockers to Thrilling 6-5 Victory

Credit: San Diego Sockers

The San Diego Sockers faced a similar script in Friday’s match against the Ontario Fury as they had last Saturday. Down multiple goals and facing a suffocating defense, the time for talk in halftime was done. It was time to throw caution to the wind and take control of the game.

Sporting the same uniforms worn by Sockers legends Julie Veee and Brian Quinn, the new-age Sockers relentlessly pounded Chris Toth and the Fury defense with sizzling shot after sizzling shot, storming back after being down three goals to none to win the game 6-5 on a fourth-quarter goal from Kraig Chiles.

Another comeback victory? Nothing new for this squad.

Give the retro uniforms some thanks for the win as well. The “Kicking K” Sockers jerseys, worn from 1986 to 1990, were the same jerseys worn by the Sockers teams that won four championships in that span of years. “Growing up in the ’80s and watching the Sockers, this is what the team wore,” said general manager Sean Bowers, “it has a deep meaning to fans that have been here for 10-15 years.” Bowers also added that he hoped the uniforms gave the Sockers a boost when they played.

Whatever boost it brought, it certainly gave the fans at Pechanga Arena a great show, while making the Sockers look spiffy in their old-school duds at the same time.

It certainly didn’t start off that way, as the Fury, still sore after their overtime loss last Saturday, came out with guns blazing, forcing San Diego on the back foot to begin the game. Not having Raymundo Contreras (leg) and Cesar Cerda (ankle) on the backline hurt the Sockers, but the return of Hiram Ruiz cushioned the blow to some degree.

After drawing a foul to set up a free kick, Adrien Perez cracked a left-footed shot that was high enough that Boris Pardo couldn’t get a hand on it, putting the Fury on the board first. Perez struck again in the second quarter with a goal off of a rebounded shot that was blocked by Ze Roberto.

A questionable call against Pardo late in the second quarter set up a penalty kick for the Fury, with Pardo getting a blue card on the call despite pleading his case to the referees. With the call standing, the ensuing penalty kick by Macion De Abreu slipped past Pardo and the score sat at 3-0 at the half.

Something changed with the Sockers in the second half, as it was San Diego forcing Ontario on the back foot to begin the third quarter. Felipe Gonzales, charging into the box, took a pass and hit a shot that was too fast for Toth to stop. Minutes later, Chiles slid past a Fury defender to tap the ball past the diving Toth to score the second Sockers goal of the night.

Not even a Fury goal by Robert Tornel could stop the momentum created by the Sockers, as it only took nine-game seconds for Gonzales to slam Taylor Bond’s missed shot into the back of the net. The next goal came only seconds later as, in the most bizarre way possible, a missed shot from Chiles went past Toth, off the post, rebounded off of Toth’s face… and into the back of the net. The normally stoic goalkeeper couldn’t help cracking a smile at the absurdity of the goal, even if it did tie the game at four goals apiece.

The wild third quarter concluded with the Sockers taking the lead on a Luis Ortega goal from the corner only for the Fury to score on yet another set piece to tie the game up at 5-5. The final quarter of the game was ripe with tension and emotion as both teams grappled for the lead as well as each other over control of the ball, but in the final three minutes of the game, it was Chiles who fended off two Fury defenders to score the go-ahead goal.

A final attack from the Fury, led by Toth acting as a sixth attacker, fell apart as the Sockers defense stood up to the attack to finish off the Fury for the second game in a row. “We were at halftime in the locker room a little bit (mad)… We just gotta do better on the field and stop talking about what we need to and just do it” said a passionate Chiles after the match, while praising Gonzales in his strong performance.

The Sockers pulled ahead in the Pacific division thanks to the two victories over Ontario and will face El Paso on Sunday at Pechanga Arena.

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