Kraig Chiles flicked a pass over his shoulder to Cesar Cerda, who slotted it past back-up goalkeeper Jesus Molina with 56 seconds remaining in a tie-breaking mini game to lift the San Diego Sockers to their first Major Arena Soccer League championship,.
The Sockers beat the Ontario Fury two games to one in the Ron Newman Cup Finals on Sunday at Ontario’s Toyota Arena.
The goal was the final piece of more than 75 minutes of tight soccer between the two West Coast rivals. Ontario sent the two teams into the 15-minute mini-game with a 6-5 overtime win in Game 2.
In the extra mini-game, the Fury struck first. Captain Israel Sesay followed up a broken up pass, and controlled the loose ball. He fed it to rookie Abdul Mansaray, who beat Sockers’ goalkeeper William Vanzela for the 1-0 lead.
But it was short lived. Just 14 seconds later, Marcio Leite put the game-tying goal past Ontario starting goalkeeper Claysson de Lima. But de Lima was knocked from the game with 1:19 remaining after a violent collision near mid-field.
Ontario went with the extra attacker, and had three chances, with Guerrero Pino heading a shot off the line in the final seconds, and Vanzela knocking away two more Fury shots to seal the win.
In Game 2, the Fury had a 5-2 lead after three periods, but mistakes in the back let San Diego back into the game. First a bad clear ended up in a top-of-the-box restart for the Sockers that Finals MVP Leonardo de Oliveira buried off a pass from Brandon Escoto. Then the a ball pinballed off the Fury’s Stephen Flora and ended up getting past de Lima to make it a one-goal game with 9:29 remaining in the period.
Then, the Sockers tied the game on the power play. Escoto took a pass from Leite to tie the game.
San Diego had built a 2-0 lead in the first period, with de Oliveira scoring just 3:02 into the game. Then, it was Felipe Gonzalez taking a pass from Escoto to make it 2-0.
But it was all Fury from there. Franck Tayou blasted home a pass from Thiago Goncalves to make it 2-1 after the first period. Then it was Tayou again, who shot home a pass from Juan Topete to tie the game. Ontario took the lead at the half on a hustle play, as Mansaray put a pass across the front, where Jesus Pacheco tapped it home, making it 3-2 after 30 minutes.
Topete expanded the lead midway through the third, as he took a quick shot off a foul and caught the Sockers off guard to make it 4-2. Then, 37 seconds into the fourth, Tayou completed the hat trick with a tap in off a set play pass from Goncalves to make it 5-2, setting up the Sockers’ rally.
In the overtime, it was Robert Palmer, cutting through the middle and poking home a pass from Justin Stinson to set up the mini-game.
The championship is the first in eight years for the Sockers, which last won in the Professional Arena Soccer League. The team in its various incarnations has won 15 championships over the years.