February 24, 2013 - Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL) - San Diego Sockers
SAN DIEGO--Kraig Chiles scored off a corner kick restart with 8:31 remaining in sudden death overtime, giving the San Diego Sockers a thrilling 12-11 victory over the Turlock Express in Leg One of the Professional Arena Soccer League division playoffs. Chiles' hat trick tally, on Aaron Susi's third assist of the night, gave the Sockers a golden goal game winner, improving their all-time home mark to 44-0 since returning to action in 2009.
The win was anything but easy for the three-time defending PASL champions. The Sockers blew an 8-3 third quarter lead and saw Turlock score three goals in the final five minutes of regulation to tie the game at 11-11 with 2:49 remaining. The Express earned a blue card power play with 2:14 remaining in the fourth quarter, and forward Jesse Horta missed a potential game-winner from right wing facing an open goal. San Diego saw an overtime power play of their own come up empty before a deflected shot led to a corner kick and Chiles' game winner.
"It's a little uncharacteristic of us, the last few weeks, holding everything off to the last minute," said Chiles, who set a PASL record with 56 goals in the regular season, "It's something we've got to figure out and quick. We can't be giving up (five) goal leads and we've got to slow the game down. It's nice to get out of here with a win."
A crowd of 3,048 saw San Diego take leads of 1-0 after the first quarter and 4-2 at halftime. Goalkeeper Riley Swift, despite allowing the most goals since the Sockers' restart in 2009, collected a career-high three assists in the first three quarters as San Diego extended out to an 8-3 advantage. Aaron Susi, Chiky Luna and Brian Farber each scored twice for the Sockers, but a wild third quarter saw eleven total goals cross the line, including five for the Express, and San Diego's lead was only 10-7. Ivan Campos scored five goals for Turlock, including a wicked cross-foot strike to make it 11-10 San Diego with 3:22 remaining. Arturo Pulido's equalizer with 2:49 left put the home crowd on edge, but the Sockers were able to pull out the victory and send an exhausted side back to the locker room to regroup for Sunday's second playoff leg.
"To be honest, I'm more angry than excited," said Sockers head coach Phil Salvagio, "Most of the guys are too. No matter what we did they seemed to come back. Most teams fold down 8-3 but not Turlock. They kept coming and kept coming."
The Sockers and Express now travel to the Orleans Arena for Leg Two of the PASL Pacific Division playoff, Sunday night at 7:05pm. If the Sockers win, they advance to the Ron Newman Cup semi-finals on March 10th. An Express victory would force a 30-minute mini-game to decide the series, which would be played immediately after Leg Two. The game will be carried live in San Diego on ESPN Radio 1700-AM.