The San Diego Sockers (23-0-1, 66 pts) ended the season of the Fury (9-13-2, 28 pts) with a 4-3 victory that eliminated Ontario from postseason contention.
Boris Pardo played with a fire that the whole Sockers team seemed to latch onto. Pardo made his final, and possibly best of the season, case to be named MASL Goalkeeper of the Year in an I-15 Derby match that meant little on paper to the hosts. Kraig Chiles also put in quite the shift, grabbing three assists and using his great vision to find his open teammates.
With their playoff lives on the line, the Fury pushed the Sockers onto the back foot early and often to start the game. San Diego was somewhat shell-shocked, and Ontario scored first through Justin Stinson just 1:09 into the match. The Sockers would start to get a foothold in the game and were able to win back some of the possession. A Fury mental breakdown with six minutes left led to them having six men on the field and allowed the Sockers to let their league-leading power-play unit pull them back level. Charlie Gonzalez would be fed a wonderful pass from Chiles and hit a shot not many goalkeepers would be able to stop.
The physical and fast play continued into the second period as both teams would be whistled for 12 total fouls combined by halftime. San Diego would once again use the man advantage to put another goal away. After Israel Sesay was booked for a trip with six seconds left on a Robert Palmer penalty, Leonardo De Oliviera would find absolute magic. He placed a shot that hit of the left then right post as the Sesay penalty expired to give the Sockers their first lead of the game.
Coming out of the half, Ontario held off San Diego’s initial push to go up by two, but Ontario’s Onua Obasi had other ideas. Obasi took on and beat his defender, then hit a shot off of the far post. Back and forth, the game went as Juan Manuel Rojo would find the net three minutes later.
Thiago Gonçalves would answer right back for the Fury as the goals were coming fast and furious. De Oliveira would use a wonderful pass from Chiles off of a restart to slip a goal past all of Ontario’s defense.
Ontario would be desperate to find two goals going into the fourth and final quarter. All three points were needed here, but the Sockers locked the door and threw away the key. Excellent defensive play and pure hustle from the team, as well as Pardo cosplaying as a brick wall, would deny the Fury any path to the playoffs. Shot after shot was blocked or saved, and there was no solving the Sockers’ defense even with Ontario playing most of the fourth with a sixth attacker.
San Diego had previously won the MASL Shield and will be seeded first for the playoffs.
They will be heading to Milwaukee for a matchup with the Wave on Thursday, April 7, for game one of the quarterfinals. The current listed time for the match is 7:35 PDT. The teams will fly to San Diego for game two on Sunday, April 10, at 5:05 PDT.