Sockers Down Stars
SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Sockers-presented by Kaiser Permanente San Diego-opened their 2023-24 MASL campaign with a convincing 11-6 win over the Tacoma Stars on Sunday night at Pechanga Arena. Kraig Chiles led San Diego (1-0) with a hat trick and assist, one of six multi-point scorers on the night.
The match was the beginning of the season, but also an ending for longtime Sockers midfielder Brian Farber, who announced his retirement at the age of 41. Farber earned one more run on the Midway, was announced last to the crowd, watched a tribute video on the field with his wife and children, and was presented with a framed jersey prior to kickoff.
Afterward, the emotional veteran stayed on the floor to sign photos and autographs until the crew literally started pulling the carpet out from under his feet.
"I knew it was going to be an emotional night for me," said a teary Farber, "I'm going to miss these moments, playing my (rear) off, working hard for my teammates. I didn't care about accolades, I cared about wins, and that's how I wanted to go out."
While the emotion centered on a departing midfielder, it was a new arrival in the midfield who drew the attention and admiration of an opening night crowd of 2,069. Gabriel Costa, the MASL Newcomer of the Year with Empire in 2022-23 and a free agent acquisition by the Sockers during the summer, opened the scoring on the night just 1:45 into the match, and finished it in the final ten seconds, adding an assist in-between for a three-point night in his debut.
"My first shift I scored right away, so it was an overwhelming feeling," said Costa, "There's no better way to start things off."
A see-saw match saw the Sockers take the early 1-0 lead thanks to Costa, quickly surrender an equalizer from defending MASL MVP Nick Perera (goal, two assists), and then retake the lead on a Felipe Gonzalez second-effort goal at 10:52 of the first quarter. The Sockers would take three different two-goal leads from there, only to see the Stars (0-1) answer back each time.
Leading 5-4 midway through the third quarter, the Sockers erupted for a five-goal run to salt the match away. Chiles netted his hat trick to get it started, finishing a wall pass from Brandon Escoto (goal, two assists). Sean Callahan, Escoto, Charlie Gonzalez and Tavoy Morgan (two goals, assist) each found the net from there, pushing San Diego to a 10-4 lead with under five minutes to play.
Chiles, who led the Sockers with 41 points last season, is now four points away from 400 for his MASL career.
"That 400 (point) mark in the MASL will be a nice stepping stone, but it's not something I'm really focused on," said Chiles, who is 25 points from 700 for his overall Sockers career, "Tacoma is a really good team, with a ton of athleticism. They're going to give a lot of other teams problems, but I thought we put together a great team effort to put them away."
Alessandro Canale had two goals and an assist for Tacoma, with Jamael Cox and Micheal Ramos adding goals for the Stars. Tacoma will host the Sockers on Saturday in the return leg of the season-opening home-and-home series. San Diego's win over Tacoma was their ninth straight against the Stars, extending a regular season winning streak to 11 straight dating back to last season.
The Sockers' next home match will be on December 17, when the club welcomes the Empire Strykers to Pechanga Arena for a 6:05pm kickoff. Tickets are available by visiting sdsockers.com or calling (866) 799-GOAL
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Major Arena Soccer League Stories from December 3, 2023
- Sockers Down Stars - San Diego Sockers
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- Sidekicks Lose First Game of the Season to Monterrey Flash - Dallas Sidekicks
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