MASL Pechanga
Christian Gutierrez and his Socker teammates will move on in their quest for the Ron Newman Cup after their 9-3 win Sunday. Photo credit: @sandiegosockers, via Twitter

The San Diego Sockers ran away late Sunday against the Milwaukee Wave in a 9-3 win at Pechanga Arena that moved them to the semifinals in the Ron Newman Cup playoffs.

Building on his 17-for-19 save performance in the series opener, goalkeeper Boris Pardo stopped 13-of-16 shots – including ten in a row during a relentless second-half attack.

The top-seeded Sockers will face an opponent to be determined over the next two days – the the lowest-remaining seed among Chihuahua (4), Baltimore (5) and Dallas (6).

Leonardo de Oliveira, who led the MASL in assists during the regular season with 33, powered San Diego’s attack with a goal and four assists.

The Sockers (25-0-1, 2-0 playoffs), playing before 1,535 fans at Pechanga, won their 22nd match in a row, building a 5-2 lead by halftime then hunkering down on defense. They swept the best-of-three series.

Pardo only saw three shots in the first half, then went 9-for-9 in the third quarter. The Wave (10-14-1, 0-2 playoffs) out-shot the Sockers 12-0 in the frame, but failed to score.

“It’s hard to stay engaged when the shots aren’t coming,” Pardo said. “Once the shots were coming, you get zoned in, and I thought we had a good (defensive) balance. Our guys blocked a lot of shots.”

San Diego withstood a scoreless quarter of intense pressure in the third, then broke through on defender Cesar Cerda’s goal 3:29 into the fourth quarter. After Wave star Ian Bennett extended his scoring streak to 30 matches with a power-play goal, the Sockers scored three times into the empty net late.

San Diego defenders scored three times. Juan Manuel Rojo had two of those goals including one that at the end of the first half that gave the Sockers a 5-2 lead.

Pardo appreciated the effort from the defensive corps, saying, “it’s good to see that, to keep a steady balance, and then break out at the right time.”

The MASL allowed video review for the playoffs, and Sockers head coach Phil Salvagio raised his lone challenge of the match in the second minute, which resulted in a goal by Andre Hayne being reversed, keeping the game scoreless.

Kraig Chiles netted two goals with an assist, teaming with de Oliveira twice as San Diego built a 2-0 lead through the first quarter.

Early in the second, Charlie Gonzalez worked off another de Oliveira assist, extending his right foot and redirecting the ball for a 3-0 lead at 2:24.

Milwaukee responded though by scoring goals just a minute apart. Hayne and Gordy Gurson scored goals at 5:55 and 6:55, cutting the Sockers’ lead to 3-2.

San Diego was given a shootout power play after a play that hobbled forward Tavoy Morgan and Wave keeper Joey Kapinos. Reserve Matt Perrella stepped in for Kapinos and Chiles took the shootout, sending a rocket into the center of the upper V, and increasing the Sockers’ lead at 13:08.

The team broke through early in the fourth quarter with Cerda’s low shot inside the left post.

Then, when San Diego’s Guerrero Pino was shown a blue card for pushing at 6:44, Wave head coach Guiliano Oliviero pulled his keeper to add a sixth attacker on the “super power play.” That set up Bennett for a point-blank goal at 8:24, but Milwaukee would not score again.

Christian Gutierrez (9:07), Felipe Gonzalez (13:32), and Rojo (13:52) all landed goals in the empty net.

A schedule and tickets for the semifinals will be available online by 9 a.m. Wednesday or by calling (866) 799-GOAL.