Pechanga Arena- San Diego, California
The last time the Ontario Fury (0-1) played in Pechanga Arena, they nearly pulled off an upset over the hometown San Diego Sockers (3-1) but fell 7-6 in a contest that oozed tension.
This time, there was much less tension in the air. Three second-quarter goals by San Diego spoiled Ontario’s season debut as the Sockers won by a comfortable score of 4-2.
For the first fourteen minutes of the game, both teams were locked in a defensive slugfest, with both Boris Pardo and Chris Toth of the Fury keeping a stoic guard over their respective boxes.
Breaking the scoreless drought with seconds remaining in the quarter was Leonardo de Oliviera. After putting Fury defender Evan McNeley in a blender with some fancy footwork, de Oliviera snuck a shot past Toth that rolled off the keeper’s back and into the net for the first Sockers goal.
When asked about the first goal, de Oliviera said that “they (the Ontario defense) gave me a 1-on-1 opportunity, which is my best characteristic.”
de Oliviera shared the love in the second quarter, helping Slaivsa Ubiparipovic net his first goal with a slick pass to the forward. Ubiparipovic handled the rest with a soft chip shot over Toth, who failed to prevent the second Sockers goal from sailing past him.
Speaking of passes, the Sockers had that aspect locked down throughout the match. Both Ubiparipovic and Hiram Ruiz garnered assists in the quarter thanks to precision passes that set up scoring opportunities.
An isolated Brian Farber received a pass from Ruiz and redirected it through Toth’s legs while Ubiparipovic provided an assist night of his own on de Oliviera’s second goal of the night at the end of the quarter.
“It paid off on a couple of our goals tonight,” Farber said on the team working on their passing game. “The runs we were making and the passes that were finding the back post (came) from those training sessions.”
San Diego wouldn’t find the back of the net for the rest of the game. Despite two late goals from the Fury, Ontario never threatened to retake the lead thanks to Pardo’s ten saves and a well-fortified defense led by Travis Pittman.
The Sockers will face the Sonara de Sol (1-3) on Sunday at Pechanga Arena. It will be the first meetup between the two teams since February 11, 2018.