The Turlock Express seems to be a better team when playing at their home confines, as the winless team kept it close against the Ontario Fury, losing both games by a single goal.
Such closeness would not be repeated when the San Diego Sockers came to town as, even without players like Brian Farber and Kraig Chiles making the trip north, they completely derailed the Express 8-1 thanks to six second period goals.
Facing back-to-back games, San Diego opted to rest Farber, Hiram Ruiz, and Christian Segura as the trio had been dealing with injury problems and were listed as “Probable” on the injury report. Chiles, after being named the MASL Player of the Week, stayed in San Diego to stay fresh for Saturday’s game against the Fury.
At the start of the game, it seemed like Turlock would live up to the reputation of defending their keep as Jorge Carmona’s shot deflected off the body of a defending Cesar Cerda and into the back of the Sockers’ net, stunning Boris Pardo. With the 1-0 deficit, this signaled the first time that the Sockers have trailed in the first quarter all season, a testament to their lightning-fast offensive style.
After being dealt a surprise Charley horse to the leg, it didn’t take San Diego long to bounce back. Chad Hagerty finessed a pass to Brandon Escoto, who thread the needle to score on an open goal, tying the game while simultaneously extending his point streak to six games. Hagerty got in on the action with a goal of his own in the eleventh minute of the period.
The game remained close after the first period, but the Sockers’ would turn up the heat in the second period. The first goal of the period came from an unlikely source as Ze Roberto, a 40-year-old defender who hadn’t scored a goal all season last year, showed the kids on the field how it’s done with a scorcher that Turlock keeper Edgar Martinez couldn’t stop.
After Roberto’s turning back of the clock, Eddie Velez got some help from a Turlock defender who, instead of clearing Velez’ errant pass off the wall, chipped it into the back of his own net, with the goal being counted in favor of Velez.
Taylor James Bond took action on a give-and-go play with Velez, taking advantage of a power play to score his first goal of the season and first with the Sockers. San Diego continued to take advantage of poor defensive play from Turlock, with Travis Pittman and Christian Gutierrez scoring their third and fifth goals, respectively. The final dagger to the heart came with some fancy footwork by Escoto, crossing up Martinez before booting in the eighth and final goal for San Diego.
After their scoring rampage, the Socker let the game go on cruise control with the defense taking over in shutting Turlock down. However, some on-field fireworks erupted late in the fourth quarter as Turlock’s frustration started to pour out. Players began to play a more physical style of defense, resulting in blue cards and passionate arguments on the pitch. All of the bad blood culminated in Adrian Pulido, who already received a blue card for pushing Roberto, elbowed Felipe Gonzales in the face, earning him a yellow card.
All of the aggression on the field couldn’t save Turlock from the 8-1 defeat at the hands of the Sockers. With the victory, San Diego has moved into first place in the Pacific Division over the Fury and Tacoma Stars, who both have two losses compared to the Sockers’ one. Expect San Diego to be back at full strength against the Fury, as with their injured players rested, San Diego can extend their lead with a victory over the second place team.