The San Diego Sockers are advancing to the Ron Newman Cup Finals. After losing in Chihuahua on Monday on a golden goal golazo by Edgar González, breaking the Sockers’ 22-game win streak, left the Sockers feeling deflated coming home, but the team knew there was still everything to fight for.
Both teams began the game going at maximum velocity. End-to-end action that most neutral fans would love, and fans of the Sockers and Savage were holding their hearts in their throats. Boris Pardo and Berna Valdvinos both kept coming up huge for their side, keeping things level for much of the quarter. It would not be until late into the first quarter that the Sockers’ Charlie Gonzalez would be fed a ball from Tavoy Morgan on a quick one-two pass to break the deadlock.
Chihuahua would push the pressure higher in the second quarter as they looked to tie the game up. Pardo and the Sockers defense stood tall as they were peppered with shots and the Sockers were unable to keep possession for long stretches. Despite all of this Luis “Peewee” Ortega would pick the pocket of the Savage and take the ball himself to double the Sockers’ lead against the run of play. Some frustrations would be shown by Chihuahua as Eduardo Garay would grab a blue card for tripping that would continue into the third quarter.
Although the ensuing penalty would not convert into a goal for the Sockers, they would start to see more of the ball and keep in the flow of the game. Controversy would ensue shortly after the five minute mark of the quarter. Felipe Gonzalez would be shown a blue card for a hard foul, and seconds later, a blue card was shown to Chihuahua on a tackle that prevented a breakaway. The Savage coaching staff threw their red flag, challenging the call made on the field. After review the refs deemed that there was a foul before on San Diego and that the foul for the blue card was not a foul as well, leading to a Chihuahua Savage free-kick. Confusion and boos were heard throughout Pechanga Arena, from section 19 to the Sockers bench, but play went on.
After the call the field seemed to tilt in the Savage’s favor for a spell. Chihuahua would finally make that pressure and possession translate into a goal through Brayan Aguilar with a wonderful volley. They would not be done however as Carlos Hernandez would tie the game at two 84 seconds later as Hernandez would beat his defender and hit the ball at a speed that Pardo could not handle. The Savage would continue pressing, but Sean Callahan would ping a wonderful ball to Felipe Gonzalez’s head and beat Valdovinos with a wonderfully placed header to put the Sockers back on top.
Back and forth, the teams would go once again, showing how desperate each team was to get the win in this game. It would take a quick restart from Felipe Gonzalez to catch Chihuahua off guard, and Kraig Chiles would use a perfectly placed volley to double the Sockers lead once again. Adrian Miller would earn himself a blue card after a horrid tackle in the Sockers zone, and at the end of it, he would intercept a pass, and the ensuing play would see Pardo make the most important save of the 60 minute match with a diving stop on the goal line with an empty net behind him. A shot that should have pushed the Savage back into the game instead kept the Sockers lead at two.
Late on the Savage would empty the net and Chrisitian Guttierez would take advantage of it and the stage would be set now for there to be a game three shortly after this one. Morgan would add another goal after a series of fouls led to a blue for the Savage to put the game even further out of reach.
After both teams got 15 minutes of rest they came back out onto the field and game three would commence. After a couple of possessions by each team that were tentative, Gerardo Jurrado, who was added to the roster after game two ended, found Gutierrez across the field, who would launch a first time shot right over Valdovinos for the early lead. Jorge Rios would make that lead disappear shortly after that and back to even the teams went. End to end action, led by exhausted legs, would lead to mistakes from both sides.
The Sockers would make the first mistake as San Diego was caught in the middle of a change and Pardo would have to challenge the ball at his red line in order to stop a breakaway. The ball would get chipped over but luckily Guerrero Pino was back to collect the ball before any more harm could come of it. Seconds later the Savage would give the ball up at their own red line and Brandon Escoto would make them pay. The challenge flag would be thrown once again to see if Pardo had touched the ball with his hands outside the box earlier but the call stood as the referee’s could not find a clear and obvious error on the play.
Physical play and tempers would flare up in the final few minutes. Tackles were flying in as Chihuahua tried their hardest to tie the game up but Juan Manuel Rojo would add two empty-net goals to push the Sockers into the Ron Newman Cup Finals for the second consecutive season and give the Sockers the chance to repeat as champions.
The Sockers will face the Florida Tropics in the Ron Newman Cup Finals, with game one being hosted in Lakeland, Florida at the RP Fundings Center and game two and, if necessary, the game three extra time being held in San Diego on either May 4 or May 8. Tickets will be on sale for the game(s) held in San Diego starting Monday morning on their website or by calling 866-799-4625. If you are unable to attend, make sure to catch all the MASL action on Twitch.