Soccer Fans Gone Wild: Sockers Edge Tacoma Stars in Thrilling Playoff Matchup
The San Diego Sockers recorded two victories versus the Tacoma Stars over the weekend to advance to the MASL Western Conference Finals. In the second leg match on Saturday, the Sockers were led by Brandon Escoto and Eduardo Velez who each recorded a hat-trick in a thrilling double-overtime victory in front of 3,307 screaming fans.
MASL Soccer News: It was a great game. Unless you were looking for an easy win, this was the match to watch.
Fans, players, coaches and staff were all on the edge of their seats and this game mattered. And, it was tied at halftime. And it went into double overtime. Simply soccer fans gone wild.
It was 37-year-old Eddie Velez’s night as he notched the game-winner for the Sockers.
Eddie Velez, a Tijuana native who is a defender for the Sockers, changed the club’s fate when he scored with just three minutes remaining in the second overtime. This is Velez’s ninth season with the Sockers. While his best season according to the record book may have been in 2010-11 when he notched 30 goals and 22 assists, his goal in OT will probably be career-defining and most memorable … although he did score a hat-trick in the match.
Side Bar: The rivalry between these two teams runs deep. One reason is that Spanish-born Nick Perera is a former star forward of the Sockers who switched teams, joining the Tacoma Stars and assuming the role of head coach earlier this year. Now a player-coach, Perera led his team to the brink of victory – quite the accomplishment in his first few months after being the
Here is the San Diego Sockers vs Tacoma Stars Game Recap:
In the first leg, the Sockers recorded a 6-3 victory over the Tacoma Stars in Washington. That final score made it look easy. On Saturday night, San Diego had to come from behind to defeat the Stars,7-6, in double overtime.
In an unusual situation, the Sockers were without captain Kraig Chiles who received a one-match suspension for a blue card foul in the first leg.
“Definitely a different mindset when we don’t have our leader,” said Sockers veteran Brian Farber.
“Kraig is our offensive firepower, but he is also a great vocal leader in the locker room,” said Farber who is a long time and highly talented Sockers’ player.
“Chiles gets the guys going. It’s super difficult not to play with him. But he told us that we have to go out there and take care of business.”
The Sockers opened the scoring on Saturday night in the fourth minute of play. A deflected ball bounced to Velez inside the penalty area for the touch and volley finish.
Brandon Escoto tallied two impressive goals to give the hosts a three-goal advantage. Escoto’s first of the night was a powerful left-footed strike from outside the penalty area. The Tijuana native scored a free-kick into the top, left corner for his second tally of the night.
Tacoma’s first goal of the night was off a free-kick in the 13th minute of play. Adam West sent a strike low to the bottom, right post for the finish.
The match entered the second quarter with the Sockers holding a 3-1 lead.
The Stars cut the deficit just over a minute into the second quarter. A long ball off the end line boards was collected and finished by Vince McCluskey for the visitor’s second goal of the night. Lamar Neagle brought the match level for Tacoma in the seventh minute.
Velez scored his second goal of the night 17 seconds into the final half to give the Sockers a 4-3 advantage. The defender shielded a long ball to beat his defender and finished a right-footed volley with just the goalkeeper to beat.
With 50 seconds left of the third quarter, Tacoma brought the match level with Perera on the scoring end. Perera received a pass from Raphael Cox as he entered the penalty area, dribbled past his defender and calmly finished a high shot to the back post.
Tacoma took a 5-4 lead just 41 seconds into the final quarter. A low cross from Pablo Da Silva was deflected by the San Diego defense into the path of Dan Antoniuk for the tap-in finish.
The Stars extended their lead with a Perera free-kick finish from the top of the penalty box arc. Tacoma controlled the match with under three minutes left of play.
A sixth attacker for the Sockers entered with the final minutes underway. In the 13th minute, an unmarked Escoto crashed the back post and finished a bouncing ball to cut the deficit.
With 13 seconds left, Christian Segura collected the ball at the top of the penalty area and finished a strike to the bottom, left post to get the crowd on its feet. The match entered overtime a 6-6 draw.
With momentum now in their favor, the Sockers controlled the ball around Tacoma’s penalty area during the first overtime but could not find an opening.
Velez, the first scorer of the night, tallied the closing goal of the match in the seventh minute of double overtime. An impressive dribbling effort down the left sideline by Escoto set up a deflected backheel pass to Velez. The Sockers veteran hit a first-time strike with authority into the back of the net for the victory.
The Sockers were able to keep the intensity up and grind out a hard-fought second victory in two days.
“Back to back games is never easy,” said Farber. “Tough on the body. But they had to go through the same thing. It was not an advantage or disadvantage either way. We knew we just had to come out here and perform.”