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Bolts' Season on the Line in Clash with Defending Champs

February 2, 2013 - Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL) Anaheim Bolts

ANAHEIM, Calif. - The Anaheim Bolts' 2012-13 PASL campaign will be on the line on Saturday, as nothing less than a win over rivals and defending champions San Diego Sockers will suffice for Head Coach Jeff Tackett's men as they look to keep their postseason hopes alive. The 7-8 Bolts are one of three teams battling for the remaining playoff spot in the Pacific Division, with the mighty Sockers having already punched their ticket, courtesy of an impressive 12-1 record.

The Bolts find themselves in desperate need of a victory following a recent pair of away defeats to the Tacoma Stars, one of the sides vying to reach the knockout stage. Struggling with several notable player absences during the two-game road swing, the visitors from Southern California displayed impressive fighting spirit in both encounters but were unable to overcome their travel fatigue and depleted roster en route to the consecutive losses.

Anaheim goalkeeper Manabu Kaji reflected on his side's most recent match, a 9-7 defeat to the Stars on January 20.

"To be honest, we just didn't play well and weren't able to make our strategy work for us," the 25-year-old said. "Everything was fine in the first quarter, but Tacoma changed it up to try and fix their problems after that, which made things a lot more difficult for us. In addition, we had several miscommunications and mistakes in the back that cost us.

"Our attack was great once again, especially (striker) Adriano (de Lima). But when you're playing so many new guys, it's extremely hard to always be in sync defensively. That definitely hurt us in both games."

While the Bolts will have most of their regulars available for Saturday's clash with the Sockers, the task of handing Head Coach Phil Salvagio's men their second loss of the season will be a difficult one, to put it mildly. San Diego recently suffered an overtime loss to hosts Dallas Sidekicks that snapped the team's 48-game win streak, a record in U.S. pro sports history.

The defending champions' attack is led by superstar striker Kraig Chiles, who leads the league in goals and points (44/55). Midfielder Brian Farber (20/38) is second on the team in both categories, with captain Aaron Susi a close third (16/36). Susi is the Sockers' top assists man with 20.

The Bolts face their I-5 rivals for the second time this season, having suffered a 14-3 loss in the two teams' first meeting at San Diego 's Valley View Casino Arena on December 22.

"Our attacking game has been very fast-paced and effective all season, and we will depend on that again on Saturday, " Anaheim goalkeeper Kaji offered. "That said, there's no question that the greater focus needs to be on our defending. In the first quarter of the road game in San Diego, our defensive strategy worked out really well. After that we lost our concentration a bit and were punished immediately.

"San Diego is similar to us in the sense that they play an extremely fast-paced style, so we need to avoid the kind of defensive miscommunications that have hurt us this season. They're also able to hit extremely accurate balls over the top of opposing backlines, meaning that our transition from offense to defense will be crucial. Getting a win against the PASL champs will require nothing less than our best performance of the campaign."

The Bolts will fight to keep their postseason hopes alive against the mighty Sockers on Saturday, February 2. Tickets for the 7 p.m. PT blockbuster battle start at $12 and may be purchased through Ticketmaster or the Anaheim Convention Center Arena box office. Parking is free. For more information, please call the Bolts front office at 714-321-9898 or the Anaheim Convention Center Arena at 714-765-8980.

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