MASL Pechanga Arena
The San Diego Sockers leave Saturday for Monday’s first game in their championship series against the Florida Tropics. Photo credit:@sdsockers, via Twitter

The San Diego Sockers have their second straight MASL championship in their sights, but first they must make it past a team with a far shorter history – the Florida Tropics.

The Ron Newman Cup Finals, a best-of-three series, begin at 4 p.m. Monday when the Sockers face the Tropics, making their first-ever finals appearance, in Lakeland, Fla.

The Sockers, though, will be seeking their 16th overall title, and have such a legacy of success that the league’s trophy is named after their one-time coach, the late Newman, who led his teams to 10 championships in just 11 years, beginning in the 1980s.

San Diego (23-0-1) and Florida (18-3-2) had the top two records during the regular season. In their only head-to-head meeting, the Sockers beat the Tropics 11-4 on March 31 at Pechanga Arena, clinching the MASL Shield for the league’s best regular-season record.

Both teams breezed through the quarterfinals, but the semifinals proved to be a tougher challenge. San Diego outlasted the Chihuahua Savage in three games, losing 7-6 in overtime – their first setback of the year – before rallying Sunday for 6-2 and 4-1 victories at home, to clinch the series 2-1.

The Tropics also dropped Match 1 to Kansas City, 8-7 on the road, before coming home for 4-2 wins in both of the next two games.

The teams are led by league honorees Tavoy Morgan and Boris Pardo on the Sockers side and Victor Parreiras and Chad Vandegriffe for the Tropics. The group was named to the MASL “Elite Six” first team for their regular-season play.

Morgan led the league in power-play goals with nine, and the Sockers in points and goals, while Parreiras set the pace for the Tropics in goals and assists. Pardo topped the MASL with a 4.20 goals-against average, while Vandegriffe led with 54 blocked shots.

During the playoffs, Sockers captain Kraig Chiles has stood out, with seven goals and Mitchell Cardenas has blocked 13 shots. For Florida, Zach Reget has 13 points and seven assists.

Some details for fans on the upcoming series:

  • On Monday, the Sockers will host a watch party at the CaliFino Sub-Limit Lounge, 3238 Grey Hawk Court, Carlsbad, for fans to gather for the match.
  • The series concludes on May 8 in San Diego, with the Ron Newman Cup on the line. If the series is tied 1-1 at the end of Match 2, a 15-minute Knockout Game follows, serving as Match 3 to decide the series.
  • For finals tickets, including Mothers Day and group specials, search online or call to get tickets without fees at (866) 799-GOAL.
  • The finals will be broadcast online on the MASL Twitch channel, @masl_soccer, or on Sirius XM, channels 138 or 201 on Monday, or 157 on May 8.