The San Diego Sockers (12-2) had a bigger test than expected against a defensive-minded Turlock Express (2-15), as goalkeeper Boris Pardo was tested mightily but only gave up one goal with nine saves. The Sockers scored three fourth period goals to pull away and win 4-1.
The Sockers would get on the board in the first two minutes of the game thanks to Erick Tovar, who took a pass from Eduardo Velez and bounced a shot right past Turlcok goalkeeper Edgar Martinez. This would be the only goal of the period for the Sockers, as despite shots from Brian Haggerty and Tovar, they were not able to get another shot past Martinez.
Turlock wouldn’t back down and did not want a repeat of the last time they faced San Diego, and put on a high-press defense and attacked the Sockers when they had the ball. Their offense was rolling as well, but with Martinez impersonating a brick wall, Pardo impersonated an even thicker wall, stopping all shots that came at him and pouncing on loose balls like a cat would pounce on a ball of yarn. All of this equaled a 1-0 lead for the visiting Sockers after the first period.
The second period saw less offense and more ball possession and defense. San Diego had their opportunities, but shots by John Sosa and Brandon Escoto went wide. Velez had his chance in the middle of the box and took three shots on goal, but they were either blocked by Martinez or were off their mark and the Sockers remained scoreless in the second period. Turlock snagged a power play late in the period, but a free kick was blocked and clutch play by Pardo and the defense kept Turlock off the board as the second period went by without a goal.
San Diego came out ready to make some noise in the third period, but Tovar and Luan Oliveira both had shots that Martinez didn’t have to worry about. But San Diego would get hit with another blue card for too many men on the field and gave Turlock another power play. Much like the last power play, San Diego killed it off thanks to Pardo’s goalkeeping and a great defensive effort. San Diego couldn’t score in the period, but would go into the final period with a power play of their own.
The power play would be killed off once the fourth period began, and the Sockers faced early pressure from the Express. A breakaway saw the Express nearly tie the game, but pressure from Matt Clare put an end to the run. San Diego had chances on two intentional clearances, but missed both times. Another close shave came when Anthony Medina was in the middle of the box with a wide open net. His shot went wide left and Medina gave an angry shout of frustration at what was at that point the best opportunity for a goal.
The frustration didn’t last long as Hiram Ruiz finally broke through the force field and scored on Martinez, with Felipe Gonzales hitting a banger a few minutes later that rattled around in the back of the goal for a Sockers 3-0 lead.
Turlock would finally get on the board with an Adrian Guiterrez goal and Turlock would get a power play after a handball was called on Gonzales. But even with the power play and a six man attack, Turlock couldn’t crack the code that was the San Diego defense and Ruiz would take a potshot that settled into an empty net to give San Diego a winning score of 4-1.
With a win and an Ontario Fury loss, the Sockers magic number to clinch a playoff spot is three. They have a tough match-up on tap as they travel to Monterrey to take on the undefeated Monterrey Flash on January 28, 3:05. The Sockers are employing a split-squad for this road trip, but are sure to have captain Kraig Chiles, goalkeeper Chris Toth, and defensive wizard Ray Contreras readily available for a tough game against the Flash. The game will be available on the MASL’s YouTube page at MASL.tv.