Pechanga Arena- San Diego, California
A familiar scene played out at Pechanga Arena on December 29th. The San Diego Sockers faced another deficit in the second half against a Western Conference opponent.
A week ago at Turlock, San Diego was down by one in the third quarter and scored three fourth-quarter goals to steal a victory. Two days later, the Sockers overcame a three-goal deficit to put away a pesky Tacoma squad that wouldn’t stay down.
The script called for another comeback as the Soles de Sonora led the Sockers 4-2 with 6:44 left in the third quarter. Things looked grim for the Sockers who had once held a two-goal lead over Sonora but were now fighting with their backs to the wall.
However, when all hope seemed lost, the players who starred in the previous two come-from-behind victories, Leonardo de Oliviera and Slavisa Ubiparipovic, lit the fires of yet another dramatic victory as San Diego closed what is hopefully just a single trilogy of resurgences with an 8-7 win.
After the game, captain Brian Farber was proud of how his team performed under stress but admitted that there was still room for improvement in some aspects of the game.
“It’s nice to know that we can come from behind,” Farber said. “But we also know we need to get a little bit better at trying to play with a lead… to win a championship, we can’t put ourselves in that position all the time.”
Clad in custom Darth Vader uniforms for the appropriately themed “Star Wars Night,” the game started smoothly for San Diego. De Oliviera scored the first goal of the night in the first quarter with a quick strike while Taylor Bond scored his first goal of the season on a backdoor shot.
The game went off the rails fast as Sonora took advantage of some poor play by San Diego to strike back with four unanswered goals. One goal from Enrique Canez came with a man disadvantage due to a San Diego power play, while the third goal scored by Manuel Aragon came thanks to a Sonora power play.
It didn’t help that San Diego was playing hurt, as team captain Kraig Chiles played one shift before suffering a setback with his hamstring injury. Hiram “Pollo” Ruiz was also out due to a leg injury suffered in practice before the game while Luis Ortega and Brandon Escoto sustained injuries during the match.
“Missing Kraig Chiles is huge, he’s someone we can’t replace as a captain and leader on the team,” commented Bond after the game. “Brandon always does his thing, and it hurts when we get down, but we have a deep squad.”
Even with the injuries, it didn’t deter de Oliviera and Ubiparipovic from giving San Diego a lead. Ubiparipovic’s third-quarter goal cut the deficit to one while de Oliviera tied the game with a goal thirty seconds into the fourth quarter.
Sonora still wouldn’t go away even after Ubiparipovic and Erick Tovar gave San Diego the lead as the visitors tied the match up with five minutes left to play. Two goals from Farber were the definitive nail in the coffin to defeat Sonora by a score of 8-7.
Technically, the game ended with 0.02 seconds remaining, but those seconds were wiped off the clock after Sonora’s Ivan Acuna shoved Escoto into the boards. A physical dispute immediately followed with pushes and shoves, but order was quickly restored as Acuna was shown a red card.