The San Diego Sockers (15-3) dashed the playoff hopes of the Florida Tropics (9-8) with a close 4-2 victory. Captain Kraig Chiles scored two goals, which means he has now scored in all 15 games he has played while Boris Pardo improved to 8-0-1 thanks to his strong performance tonight. He leads the MASL with a 3.66 Goals Allowed Average (GAA).
Chiles extended his streak early in the first quarter with a one-on-one goal vs Tropics keeper Piotr Sliwa, searing the ball past Sliwa’s right ear to put the Sockers ahead by a single goal. The Tropics played a very physical defense against the Sockers all night long, pushing down Luan Oliveira and Jamie Lovegrove. However, their tenacity gave the Sockers multiple restarts and, on one such occasion, saw Oliveira deke out a Florida defender to put the ball in the back of the net.
Florida would attack Pardo with four shots on goal, however the stoic keeper swatted away every shot that came at him and the San Diego defense applied pressure to many a Tropic striker. The quarter would end with a 2-0 lead in favor of the visiting Sockers.
The Tropics would kick up the pressure in the second quarter and attack the Sockers defense from all angles. They were able to crack one past Pardo after Lucas Montelares found Ricardo De Queiroz Deiguz open in the middle of the box and Deiguz was able to shoot the ball right past the diving hands of Pardo to put Florida on the scoreboard.
This goal energized the Florida offense and kick started them to attack faster and stronger. They would tie up the score after a give-and-go to Deiguz was not covered by the Sockers defense, and Pardo was unable to stop the ensuing ground shot from slipping under his hands, tying the game up at two goals apiece.
The Sockers gave it their all, firing shot after shot toward Sliwa, but shots by John Sosa and Matt Clare were knocked aside. Brian Farber and Oliveira had near misses as well while Brandon Escoto tripped himself up while he had only Sliwa to beat. The score would remain deadlocked 2-2 going into the half.
Pardo was immediately put to the test in the third quarter, making three close-quarter saves in the span of 30 seconds. Shortly after, Oliveira would tear down the field like a one-man wrecking crew and run past Florida defenders. They eventually caught up to Oliveira, but failed to notice Chiles sneaking up the field. Oliveira did notice, however, and sent it Chiles’ way. Chiles handled the rest, putting extra mustard in a power kick that had Sliwa bending backwards and missing the ball completely to let Chiles score his second goal of the match.
Sliwa would still play hard and slap away shots from Lovegrove and Cerda. Florida really had their chance after Ray Contreras was caught with elbowing a Tropics player in the face and was sent to the box with a blue card. However, their power play fizzled out without so much as a shot towards Pardo.
San Diego got their own power play after Freddy Moojen tripped up Felipe Gonzales and would go into the fourth and final quarter with a power play opportunity and a 3-2 lead.
Even though San Diego had a power play, it was killed off by solid play by the Florida defense. The Sockers were able to get a couple shots, but they were both wide. San Diego was focused on keeping possession of the ball throughout the quarter and not letting the Tropics get a chance to score.
They would lose their captain for five minutes though, as Chiles argued a little too much with the referee after being nicked in the hand by an errant kick. After a lengthy debate, Chiles was given a yellow card and five minutes in the penalty box.
The final minute of the game was perhaps the most intense with a sixth attacker on for the Tropics. With seconds left, an apparent handball occurred
in the Sockers box that would’ve given the Tropics a penalty kick, but the referees chose to let them play on as they didn’t see it. Hiram Ruiz would score an open-net goal and the Sockers would edge out a victory 4-2.
San Diego will conclude the two-game road series against Florida on tonight at 4:35 p.m. The game is available on MASL.TV on YouTube.