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 San Diego Sockers

Sockers Melt Down In Fourth Quarter, Lose 10-5

March 23, 2024 - Major Arena Soccer League (MASL)
San Diego Sockers News Release


KANSAS CITY, MO--The San Diego Sockers surrendered six straight goals in the fourth quarter, seeing a potential road win turn into a blowout loss by a 10-6 final margin. The Sockers (18-5, 52 points) led 5-4 after three quarters, only to see the Comets blow through the San Diego defense for three goals in less than five minutes to take control. League-leading goal scorer Zach Reget netted a hat trick to power the Comets (14-6-4, 45 points) to victory.

Kraig Chiles and Brandon Escoto each scored two goals, with Christian Gutierrez and Gabriel Costa adding goals in the losing cause. The Sockers finished their road schedule 10-2, but lost the season series to the Comets 0-2, getting outscored by the biggest two-match margin in modern San Diego Sockers history (20-10 aggregate score).

The combination of a critical match, the retirement ceremony of all-time Comets leading scorer Leo Gibson, and the promise of a teddy bear toss led to a rollicking atmosphere inside a sold-out Cable Dahmer Arena. The Comets put heavy pressure on the net from the start, misfiring on a wide-open 2-v-1 run down the floor. In the fifth minute, Kansas City found the lead. A defensive turnover gave Ramone Palmer the ball in the low-right corner of the attacking zone. He laid off a pass to Lucas Souza, who appeared to be too close to the goal wall to get off an effective shot. However, his bid for the net caught Pardo staggering on his near post, and as the keeper fell down, the ball caromed off him into the net for a 1-0 lead at 4:28. The match was delayed for a few minutes as teddy bears of various sizes rained down for charitable donation.

The delay did not stem the Comets' momentum. With just under eight minutes remaining in the first quarter, Ramone Palmer took advantage of the Sockers ball-watching, accepting a pass through the defense for a breakaway halfway down the floor. Pardo stood tall to make the save, but San Diego could not get the ball back, and Rian Marques found himself free to rush the net unimpeded. Pardo again warded the shot away, but a wide-open Leo Acosta was waiting unmarked to slam home the rebound from the top of the crease for a 2-0 lead at 7:17. San Diego pressured the net with a Leonardo de Oliveira close-range shot as the quarter wound down, but finished the first 15 minutes trailing 2-0.

The second quarter saw the Sockers get back into the match thanks to top-flight goalkeeping and precise special teams. San Diego earned a power play when Kansas City's Ray Lee was shown a blue card for holding Tavoy Morgan on a downfield pass. The Sockers converted their third straight man advantage, as Charlie Gonzalez worked the ball on left wing, drawing in the defense to create space for Chiles on the low-left wing. The captain had the angle to slot his 22nd goal of the season into the right-side netting at 1:43, drawing San Diego back within a goal at 2-1.

Minutes later, a foul in the same low-left corner gave the Sockers a free kick. Chiles spotted a seam in the defense and quick-fired a shot through the legs of both the wall and the goalkeeper, knotting the match 2-2 at 5:02. Pardo took the baton from there, making seven saves, including a 1-v-1 showdown against Lucas Souza, who had a breakaway down the right wing after a midfield turnover. The clubs went into halftime tied at two.

The third quarter began with Kansas City's chance to show off their power play, as Tavoy Morgan was shown a blue card for tripping 1:22 into the frame. The Comets worked the ball around and eventually received a foul inside the crease, setting up a free kick next to the penalty dot. The Sockers' wall set up with holes in it, and Zach Reget found a hole he could use, passing the ball into the net through the empty space for his league-leading 33rd goal of the season and a 3-2 lead. Reget ran to the bench to grab a Leo Gibson t-shirt and laid it on the Comets' logo at midfield, sitting cross-legged next to it in a moment of contemplation for KC's all-time goal scorer.

San Diego found the space for a counterattack less than two minutes later. Working the ball deftly out of the zone, the Sockers sprung Juan Gonzalez for a free run down the right wing. Christian Gutierrez kept pace on the left wing, and the cross pass was one-timed by Christian inside near post for his sixth goal of the season at 4:24. Gutierrez pumped both fists to celebrate an equalizer and a 3-3 tie.

Seconds later, Kansas City was short-handed again, as Lucas Souza took a two-minute penalty for tripping. The Sockers converted their second straight power play on the night and fourth in a row overall, as Chiles created space on a reset to spring Tavoy Morgan open in the middle of the floor. Tavoy considered a shot, but saw Escoto scampering to the far post and nutmegged his defender with a clean pass, which Escoto smashed into the net for his team-leading 27th goal of the season. For the first time, San Diego held a lead, 4-3 at 6:22 of the third.

Kansas City was next to speak, as Rian Marques got off a sneaky quick shot from the left angle, which Pardo parried but then bobbled. As the ball dropped out of his hand, Michael Lenis pounced, popping the ball across the line from point-blank range for a 4-4 tie at 10:32.

The match got increasingly chippy as the third quarter wore on. Luis "Peewee" Ortega and Zach Reget each got blue cards for unsportsmanlike conduct, and a minute later, Berto Palmer was shown a blue for contact above the head, striking Gabriel Costa from behind. The Sockers made it three-for-three on the night with the power play, as Tavoy Morgan spotted Brandon Escoto on the back post, sliding a pass through the defender's legs for an Escoto tap-in and San Diego's final lead of the night, a 5-4 advantage at 13:18 of the third.

With San Diego on the back end of an interstate back-to-back facing a both rested and determined Kansas City side, the fourth quarter quickly devolved into a party for the home team. Rian Marques burst through a double-team in the attacking zone and freed himself for a goal at 1:47 to tie the match 5-5. Pardo misplayed a ball out of bounds for a defensive clearance, and on the resulting top-arc restart, Nacho Flores slid a pass to his right to Ray Lee, who had an open seam for the go-ahead goal at 2:13, good for a 6-5 lead.

The Sockers defense started to unravel, and the Comets took advantage. Ramone Palmer and Zach Reget scored at 4:26 and 8:53, each time with Ray Lee picking up assists while racing through gaping holes in the defense. Christian Anderaos netted from full field against six attackers at 11:36, and then Reget into the empty net just sixteen seconds later to set the final tally for KC. San Diego netted their fourth power play goal of the night in the final minute, with Escoto picking up his brace.

San Diego will close out their regular season on Saturday when they host the Tacoma Stars in the final regular season home match at Pechanga Arena San Diego. Tickets are available by calling (866) 799-GOAL or visiting sdsockers.com.

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