The San Diego Sockers lost their cool Thursday night and were outpaced for a majority of the game by the Tacoma Stars, being outscored 5-2. San Diego must win Game Two at home on Saturday to force a series-deciding 15-minute Mini-Game on Saturday. Their two-goal output was the Sockers lowest output of the season.
The game began relatively smoothly, with two solid defenses duking it out, and goalkeepers Boris Pardo and Danny Waltman making saves on both sides of the field. San Diego had plenty of opportunities to score, but each attempt was snuffed out by the tight Tacoma defense.
The Stars would break through first after Phllip Lund took control of an errant pass from Hiram Ruiz and beat out Pardo with a shot into the corner of the net. They would score again when the San Diego defense failed to pick up Nick Perera, who was camping in an open corner. Chase Hansen would give him the ball and, despite Pardo leaping to his left to try and stop the pass, Perera would knock it into the back of the net for a Stars goal.
The Sockers found themselves in a position they haven’t been in for a long time, and went into the second quarter down two goals to none.
The second quarter saw San Diego fire right back on the offense to try to equalize the game, but many of their shots were deflected by Waltman. The team got punished for a blue card after having six men on the field, and it was served by Eduardo Velez. It didn’t matter as Felipe Gonzales scored on a one-versus-one attempt and the Sockers got the short-handed goal.
After the Sockers killed off the power play, they would continue their offensive attack. Kraig Chiles, who had been quiet for a majority of the game, had an opportunity in the middle of the box, but his shot went high. Brandon Escoto would shoot his own shot, but Waltman blocked that as well. Chiles was there to collect the rebound and, with Waltman on the ground, fired the ball past him to equalize the score.
Tacoma would do their best to tie up the game, but the San Diego defense did their part and stopped Tacoma in their tracks to keep the score tied up at two goals apiece.
The third quarter was quiet with no goals scored and it merely being a battle for possesion. While the Sockers had some opportunities to get some goals, shots by Contreras and Jamie Lovegrove missed their marks. The game remained a stalemate throughout the quarter and the score stayed 2-2.
The fourth quarter saw Tacoma, not San Diego, pull ahead. After Pardo made an impressive save, he got up to quickly be challenged by Taylor Walter Bond. Bond’s shot went over Pardo’s head and counted for the goal that would put Tacoma ahead.
Jamal Cox struck next, juking past Matt Clare and beating out a sliding Pardo to give Tacoma a two goal lead. The goal was debated for a short while with the Sockers saying that it shouldn’t count as a goal, but the referees put it up on the scoreboard. The Sockers responded by taking out Pardo and inserting John Sosa as the sixth attacker.
Things got hairy after an open-net goal by Tacoma pushed their lead to 5-2. After some words were exchanged after a blue card was handed to Sosa, Sosa gave Evan Mcnealy a push to the chest. With both sides steaming, Contreras got into it with a few other Stars players. This gave him a red card and he was sent on his way out of the game. It mattered little as the Sockers still dropped the game 5-2.
The Sockers will have to keep their cool on Saturday and not lose their tempers as it is now desperation time.If they win Game Two at Valley View Casino Center, they will play a winner-takes-all Game Three directly after. Game Two is on Saturday, March 10, 7:05 p.m and is also $2 Bud Light Night. Tickets, only $10 or $20 with free parking, are available at Sockers.com/Playoff. The first 2,000 fans receive a free Sockers Playoff Rally Towel.