For the first time in his career, Chris Toth would be facing the San Diego Sockers.
The very same team that his father, Zoltan Toth, won championships in the 1980s. The same team that he played with and was the two-time MASL Goalkeeper of the Year. The same team that couldn’t lock him down to a contract and were forced to trade to Ontario.
The Sockers, on the other hand, went into the game knowing that Toth was not named the two-time MASL Goalkeeper of the Year for nothing and is no slouch in the box. For the first quarter of play, both the Ontario Fury and the San Diego Sockers went back and forth, but Toth and Sockers keeper Boris Pardo kept the ball out of the net.
San Diego were the ones to crack open the game first after Cesar Cerda forced a turnover. The ball trickled over to captain Kraig Chiles, who passed it off to a sprinting Travis Pittman who, with a 1-on-1 face off against Toth, slammed the ball into the corner of the net for his first goal as a Socker.
The Fury went on a heated assault after the goal, but with some acrobatic saves by Pardo and strong defense, the Sockers stamped out any offensive momentum from the Fury. Even an Ontario power play after a Pittman blue card penalty couldn’t net them a point in the first half.
No goalkeeper in the MASL could’ve prevented the Sockers from opening the scoring floodgates in the second half. Eight minutes into the third quarter, Christian Segura made a cut so pretty it could’ve outmaneuvered a bolt of lightning. After isolating himself away from the defender, he struck a shot that Toth could only watch fly into the net.
Minutes later, Hiram Ruiz turned on the jets and blasted up the field with the ball. A pass to Chiles, who was open in the box, allowed the captain to tap the ball past his former teammate to gift San Diego with a 3-0 lead.
The nail in the coffin was hammered in by Brandon Escoto in the fourth quarter after the striker was left unguarded in open field, which is where he does best. Even with two last minute goals from Ontario, it wasn’t enough as the Sockers won against their rivals and old goalkeeper 4-2.
The saves made by Pardo were incredible to watch, as he is the reason this team won. The keeper made 16 saves on the day, including a save from his knees. However, to say that the Sockers defense was rock-solid is an understatement. After the less-than-satisfying fourth quarter last game against Rio Grande Valley, the defense tightened up the screws and executed their schemes effectively against an Ontario squad that averaged nine goals a game.
Next up is a home match at the Pechanga Arena against the Tacoma Stars and Matt Clare, a former Socker who was traded to Tacoma in a three-player trade that shipped Guerrero Pino to San Diego this past offseason. The Stars are currently 2-1 and have averaged eight goals a game and have allowed an average of four goals against them. They last played against the Fury and lost 3-6.