San Diego, California
The San Diego Sockers (4-0) came into Sunday’s game at Valley View Casino Center against the Ontario Fury (2-2) with the expectations of a close game and plenty of action. However, thanks to stalwart defense, an explosive offense led by Matt Clare’s hat trick, and goalkeeper Chris Toth’s first career shutout, the Sockers gave the 3,401 fans in attendance a treat by drubbing the Fury 8-0.
They first saw the Sockers blitzkrieg the Fury defense, with Luis Ortega and Clare both having near misses with the goal. Luan Oliviera had his own shot on the goal, but he couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity. While the offense was causing pressure, the defense was shutting down the Fury offense as Clare was excellent at playing both sides and Ray Contreras stifled many attempts that came at him.
Captain Kraig Chiles missed an opportunity to collect his first goal, but redeemed himself later when Clare found him wide open to the side of the net, sending the ball his way, and Chiles took care of business, knocking the ball right over Fury goalkeeper Jose Miranda’s head, making the score 1-0 in the Sockers’ favor. An alert Toth shut down any attempts on goal that the Fury made, smothering many shots and keeping the score 1-0.
The Fury flipped the script in the second quarter and caught the Sockers’ defense off guard by releasing the hounds on offense. Ontario took shot after shot towards Toth, but the San Diego keeper wasn’t named Goalkeeper of the Year for looking pretty in the net, and he batted away every shot the Fury sent at him. Ontario’s strikers weren’t helping themselves out either, taking very wild shots and not taking the time to fully control the ball before shooting.
Even more tension came when Max Touloute collided with a Fury defender and earned himself a blue card, sending him to the penalty box and gifting the Fury with a power play. However, the San Diego defense held fast against another offensive push by the Fury and killed off the power play. Oliviera then snagged the ball and passed to Touloute, who had just gotten out of the penalty box, on the breakaway. Touloute slammed the ball past Miranda and gave San Diego a 2-0 lead going into halftime.
The third quarter saw the Fury players let out their frustrations against the Sockers, but not in the right way. Luan De Oliviera was called for a roughness penalty, then called again a second time. De Oliviera then shoved John Sosa to the ground and the third time was the charm as the referee awarded De Oliviera with a blue card and two minutes in the penalty box to cool off. With a man down, the Ontario defense couldn’t stop San Diego’s short and quick passes, and Miranda whiffed on Oliviera’s soft boot and the ball merrily bounced into the back of the net for a Sockers’ goal.
With De Oliviera in a better mood, Ontario was back to full strength, but it wouldn’t help. Erik Tovar passed the ball back to Clare, who began streaking towards the Ontario goal. Clare,with the aim of a calculated sniper, fired a shot right past the Ontario keeper to widen San Diego’s lead. After the goal, Fury defender Juan Gonzales was caught tripping and awarded a blue card. Not happy with this, Gonzales turned around and loudly voiced his displeasure with the referee, who rewarded Gonzales’ burst of emotion by elevating his blue card to a yellow card and five minutes in the penalty box. Ontario endured the power play and ended the third quarter trailing the home team 4-0.
The two teams would trade off shots on goal to begin the fourth quarter, with Toth making two athletic saves on shots by Thiago Goncalves. However, Ontario would find themselves facing another power play as De Oliviera was caught with his hand in the cookie jar again and got sent back to the penalty box with a blue card for tripping. Clare took full advantage and shot a missile right at Miranda, but he would make an athletic move to block the ball. However, the ball bounced away and Oliviera was in perfect position to capitalize on the wide open goal, blasting the ball into the top part of the goal and making the score 5-0.
Ontario was then back at full strength, but Goncalves’ shove sent him to the penalty box and set the Fury right back where they were a minute ago. This time, it was Chiles who picked up an assist, giving the ball to Clare, who would put some power into his kick to scorch the ball past Miranda to give the Sockers a 6-0 lead. Five minutes later, it was Tovar who got in on the scoring action after Miranda reflected an errant shot toward the San Diego defender. Tovar didn’t hesitate for a minute, and easily tapped the ball in for another goal. Clare would complete the hat trick and make the score 8-0 a few minutes later thanks to an assist by Hiram Ruiz. The shutout was nearly ruined when Toth got deked out by a Fury striker, but excellent defense and quick thinking by Contrerras and Luis Ortega kept the Fury off the board. When the clock struck zero in the fourth quarter, the Sockers were happy to walk away with an impressive 8-0 victory over their rivals.
Of his first career shut out, Toth said he “just wanted to enjoy it” and said that even though the Fury tried to “break us down…we weathered the storm”. When asked if he was tempted to join in on the scoring, Toth laughed and said “they (the offense) do their part, I do my part, we understand each other and that’s that”.
The Sockers are on the road next week as they take on their interconference rivals, the Tacoma Stars. San Diego defeated Tacoma 8-3 in their last match at Valley View Casino and will now have to take on the Stars on their home turf. Fans can watch the game live on YouTube at 7:35 pm PST by visiting the MASL’s official channel MASLtv, where they stream all MASL games live and for free.