by Atif Bhatti
KENT, Wash.—Despite the diligence of the Tacoma Stars organization over the last 48 hours to prepare for the team’s jump into the MASL, the San Diego Sockers are still leaving the Pacific Northwest victorious by a score of 8-3. The two Pacific Division teams battled it out in Kent’s ShoWare Center on Friday night, and the division-leading Sockers came out on top before 885 fans.
San Diego firmly stayed in control of the game in the opening quarter, as the Sockers outscored the Stars 3-1 through the first fifteen minutes of play. Anthony Medina tallied a goal while Kraig Chiles scored a brace, extending his streak of having at least one point per game to 57 games. Tacoma’s lone goal was assisted by Mark Lee and scored by Derek Johnson. Despite the Stars’ plethora of chances, especially on the counterattack, the Sockers stood strong and ended the first quarter with a two goal advantage.
Both teams’ defenses were very stingy in the second quarter of play, as only one goal was scored between the two sides. After just about five minutes of play into the second quarter, Derek Johnson scored what may have been the goal of the night, as the ball was blasted and it hit the bottom of the crossbar to finally go into the net. The Stars were also without Derek Johnson for five minutes of the quarter due to a yellow card that he received. But Tacoma was still able to keep San Diego scoreless throughout the second quarter and the Stars found themselves down by only one goal at the halftime break.
The Sockers were able to get back on the board in the third quarter of play, as the away side added a pair of goals to their night and kept the Stars scoreless in this quarter. Dan Antoniuk made his presence felt with a goal early in the quarter while Kraig Chiles was able to complete his hat trick halfway through the third quarter. San Diego ended the third quarter with a lead of 5-2 over Tacoma, seeming to be in the driver’s seat to win the match.
The closing quarter of the game was chippy to say the least, as four blue cards were dished out by the officials. Only one blue card foul was converted into a power play goal, as San Diego’s Jeff Hughes scored early in the fourth quarter. Tacoma’s lone goal of the quarter came from Duncan McCormick, but the Sockers had cemented the victory in the closing couple minutes when Kraig Chiles scored his fourth goal of the game and his 31st of the season.
The Stars, now 0-1 in MASL play (3-11 including the record of the former Seattle Impact FC) won’t be playing another MASL game until Sunday, January 25th inside the ShoWare Center against the Las Vegas Legends. However, Tacoma still has their WISL obligations to fulfill, as the first-place Stars’ next game is in just a matter of hours up in Arlington against the last-place Aviators.
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