Sockers fall flat in 2nd half, lose in OT

San Diego Sockers

Credit: Don De Mars/ EVT Sports

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Credit: Don De Mars/ EVT Sports

A tale of two halves as the Sockers sprinted out to a 5-2 lead at halftime only to see the Ontario Fury roar back to take the game 8-7 in overtime. Led by Leonardo De Oliveira and Christian Gutierrez, the Sockers led, but the Fury, behind a stellar 2nd half performance from Justin Stinson, Robert Palmer, and Jesus Pacheco, dominated the later stages of the game. San Diego (3-0-1, 10pts) will be frustrated with their performance in the 2nd half, while Ontario (3-2-0, 8pts) now can look to taking the third game of three next Sunday on their home turf.

Boris Pardo was back in the lineup for the Sockers tonight and was one of the reasons that the Sockers were not down by more at times in the match. The Fury outshot the Sockers by a whopping 31-13 margin, with the Fury matching the Sockers’ game total in the 4th quarter alone.

The night started out well enough when right out the gate, captain Kraig Chiles put away a fantastic cross for Mitchell Cardenas. The goal puts Chiles at 591 career points. Back and forth, the teams went with lots of possession but outside of Ontario’s one power play in the middle of the quarter, not much came in the way of great chances. Jeff Hughes evened the score with 11 seconds left in the 1st quarter after a huge scramble in front of Pardo’s net.

The Sockers regained the lead three minutes into the 2nd quarter through Tavoy Morgan and Leonardo “El Mágico” De Oliveira following a great effort by Brandon Escoto to deny a pass off the boards. Leo beat three Fury defenders, and Tavoy put the ball past a charging De Lima to put in his first of the evening. The Sockers did not wait long for a third as Gutierrez put together a fantastic solo effort, collecting the ball from a turnover caused by Cesar Cerda inside the Sockers’ red line, culminating in forcing an errant clearance by Claysson De Lima and putting away an easy tap in. Chiles would get himself into trouble with a tackle from behind on Franck Tayou to pick up the Sockers’ second blue card of the evening. However, this would prove to not be a hindrance on San Diego’s offense as Cardenas would intercept a pass near midfield and pass it ahead to Juan Manuel Rojo in a two-on-one opportunity. Rojo would find a streaking Gutierrez who chipped the ball over De Lima to extend the Sockers lead to 4-1.

Tavoy Morgan would add his second of the night and 4th in two games against Ontario after Justin Stinson picked up a blue card for boarding. San Diego wasted no time spreading the ball around the field like soft butter over warm toast, with Morgan starting the scoring sequence. He passed the ball up to Chiles, who passed it over to Escoto, hit that ball down to Leo, who one-timed the ball back over to Morgan, who tapped in on an empty net to make it 5-1. The Sockers were cruising, and this was the best they’ve looked early in games to this point in the season.

Pardo was standing on his head and making fantastic saves, but as a rebound off a shot from Franck, Tayou bounced out to the top of the arc. Jesus Pacheco rocketed a shot into the top left corner that no one was going to save. After dominating the first half San Diego went into the locker room leading 5-2, but the game was about to be turned on its head.

Credit: Don De Mars/ EVT Sports

Ontario came out and started attacking the Sockers net, getting off three shots on goal in the first 2 minutes of the 3rd quarter. Justin Stinson got Ontario going in the 3rd quarter after he danced past and then struck a laser shot from between three Sockers defenders into the top left corner of the goal. The Fury did not stop there as two minutes later, they scored again through Juan Topete, who headed the ball in off of Guerrero Pino’s leg off a cross from Stinson. The game was teetering in the balance the rest of the 3rd as Ontario kept up copious amounts of pressure on San Diego, and the Sockers could not relieve that pressure for more than a few seconds at a time.

The 4th didn’t bring any swing to the momentum in the beginning, even with the Sockers killing off their 3rd penalty of the game. That didn’t come until Pardo stood tall by making three great saves while sitting to deny Willie Spurr and the Fury the tie. Less than a minute later, Escoto would put the Sockers back up by two. Luis “Peewee” Ortega was fouled at midfield and quickly lobbed the free-kick down to Morgan, who shielded off his defender and laid the ball off to a streaking Escoto who put the ball off the bottom of the crossbar and across the line. Ontario refused to quit during the second half as Stinson, with 5:24 remaining in the 4th quarter, looped a shot that may have been deflected by Pino over Pardo and into the back of the net to take the Fury within one once again.

Topete would complete the comeback 29 seconds later with a booming shot as the ball was passed out to the top of the arc by Spurr. Topete had a similar shot saved minutes earlier, but he ensured that this shot would not be stopped. The teams battled back and forth for supremacy over the game in the last five minutes, but it was Robert Palmer who would end the deadlock with 1:23 left in the game. Leo had the ball stolen from him near midfield, where Palmer was there to collect the ball gladly, and fired a shot into the bottom right corner of the goal from the top of the arc.

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Charlie Golazo, aka Charlie Gonzalez, would have his say before the end of the game as he was given the 6th attacker jersey and, after a great sequence of passes, received a pass from Leo at the red line. Charlie would get past two defenders and put the ball into the top right to tie the game at seven with 22 seconds left. Franck Tayou missed just wide on possibly his best shot of the night, and the game would head to a 10-minute golden goal over time,  giving each team a point in the process.

As great as overtime can be, Jorge Deleon was not having any of that as he got the ball around midfield, ran down into the corner, slipped, recovered the ball, then roofed a shot 31 seconds into overtime to clinch a historic comeback for Ontario.

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