When it comes to the MASL Playoffs, players get understandably chippy as emotions run high when the stakes are up. Tacoma, on their home turf, was looking to give the Sockers a Charley Horse in Game 1, but San Diego was not having it.
Players on both sides played with high emotions with blue cards being flashed and whistles constantly being blown (at least most of the time), but at the end of the match, the scoreboard blinked in favor of the visiting Sockers at the end of the match.
The first goal of the game was scored early in the first quarter thanks to Phillip Lund slicing through the Sockers’ defense like a hot knife through butter, hitting a shot past Boris Pardo to kick off the game right for the Stars.
However, it was going to take more than one goal to punch out the Sockers. Guerrero Pino’s blue card and ensuing date with the penalty box left the Sockers down a man, but it didn’t stop Cesar Cerda from taking care of business himself. The two-way player passed a ball to himself off the wall and poked an impressive chip shot over the head of Danny Waltman for the equalizing goal.
Naturally, with the game tied at one goal apiece, both sides began to play more physically… perhaps too physically. Troy Peterson of Tacoma began the rough play with a slide tackle that caught Cera in the ankle and earned him a blue card for the tackle as well as a yellow card for delay of game after having a lengthy debate with the referee. Seconds later in the game, Kraig Chiles was caught by the referees for pushing and got himself a blue card at a pivotal moment for the team.
While the power play dried up for San Diego, Leonardo De Oliviera was still able to tip in a goal, albeit thanks to a fortunate bounce off the knee of Chase Hanson redirected De Oliviera’s shot past Waltman and into the net for the second Sockers goal. However, the fancy footwork of Michael Ramos sprung him free from both Pino and Pardo, leaving the net unguarded. A pass to Dan Antoniuk was all it took to tie the match up at 2-2 after the first half of play.
The game remained tied for the remainder of the second quarter and well into the third quarter as both teams slugged it out for both possession and control of the lead, but a goal would finally arrive in the 10th minute of the third quarter. With both Taylor Bond and Hiram Ruiz converging on Waltman, the keeper honed in on Bond and tried to muscle the ball away but fell tripped both himself and Bond up. With an open net and nobody around him, Ruiz had an easy time scoring his first goal of the game to put the Sockers ahead. Tacoma’s defense, winded after chasing Sockers’ strikers, failed to stop Cerda from curling in another shot for his second goal at the end of the quarter.
Not even an Adam West fourth-quarter goal could slow down the Sockers, as the Stars were burned by Christian Gutierrez’ first goal of the game. Raymundo Contreras’ goal against six attackers was more than enough to ice the game and the Sockers took Game 1 of the series 6-3.
The Sockers now return to Pechanga Arena tomorrow to face the Stars yet again, but this time with a lead in the series and legions of passionate fans ready to make the ground shake with their cheers.