The San Diego Sockers and Tacoma Stars will be getting used to each other’s company. After all, the two teams will be squaring off two more times. In their next two games.
If Tacoma was looking to play spoiler against the playoff hopes of San Diego, then they didn’t exactly put on an Oscar-worthy performance.
Kraig Chiles and Gerardo Jurado tallied two goals each while Boris Pardo made 14 saves as the Sockers took a 6-2 victory over the Stars in front of 2,414 fans at Pechanga Arena.
With the win, San Diego punched their ticket to the MASL Playoffs and can clinch second place in the Western Conference with one more win.
The scoring party got kicked off early in the first quarter. With the Sockers staring at a reset penalty, Slavisa Ubiparipovic split a wide gap with a pass to Taylor Walter Bond. Bond never broke stride as his shot went right past Danny Waltman for the first goal of the game.
“Coach drew up a little something for us to run through, and it worked perfectly,” Bond said on the goal. “I got a good ball from Slav, and that made it an easy finish for me.”
Starting the second quarter with a bang was the veteran, Chiles. After Brian Farber sent the ball off the backboard, Chiles seamlessly ripped the ball out of midair with his left foot and scorched his shot into the back of the net.
Tacoma sliced the lead in half with a Micheal Ramos goal but found themselves on the back foot after blue card penalties to Lamar Neagle, and Evan McNeley set the Sockers up with a two-man advantage.
While San Diego hasn’t been the best at power plays, nothing was stopping them from cashing in on a prime opportunity. With another set up from Ubiparipovic, Jurado took a shot from the top of the box with surgeon-like precision for a goal.
Since coming over from the Cal Turlock Express, the 23-year-old Jurado has done nothing but impress as a Socker as he has three goals in just two games.
“He gives us a little bit of athleticism,” said Chiles on Jurado. “He is a dynamic 1-v-1 player that can go inside and outside… he’s stepping in and doing his role for the group perfectly.”
After another Jurado goal to close out the second quarter, neither team scored until Cory Keitz knocked in a ball that had been saved twice by Pardo. Goals from Chiles and Cesar Cerda erased any doubts of a Tacoma comeback.
Six total yellow cards were handed out, two going to a Socker, and four to a Star. However, each of those yellows was the result of dissent penalties called by the senior referee against players making their cases as to not get a card.
One such player, Allesandro Canale of the Stars, got sent off the pitch after receiving three quick yellow cards after trying to plead his case a little too hard in the referee’s eyes.
The return of Hiram Ruiz from a groin injury meant extra reinforcements for the San Diego backline, as noted by Bond after the game.
“It is definitely nice getting Pollo (Ruiz) back into the lineup,” Bond said. “Collectively, as a team, we were getting down, and we were going to defend for each other to keep the score low.”
Today marks the first of a three-game series against Tacoma. The Sockers will now make the trip up to Tacoma to face the Stars on their home turf on Mar. 13 at 7:35 PST.