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Sockers Defeat Express; Susi Reaches 500
Sockers Defeat Express; Susi Reaches 500 | SD Sockers, PASL, Aaron Susi, Turlock Express

San Diego Sockers celebrate Aaron Susi's 500th career point.

Indoor Soccer News: SD Sockers and Aaron Susi Score Big

On a cold and blustery night in Del Mar, the San Diego Sockers showed once again why they are considered “the team to beat” for the PASL crown, as they held on to notch a 10-8 win over a determined Turlock Express team. The Sockers recorded their 30th win without a loss at the Del Mar Arena and their 24th straight including PASL regular season and playoff games and the U.S. Open Cup. The night was also special as veteran Aaron Susi recorded his 500th career point with a third quarter assist on a goal by Eric Wunderle.

Turlock came into the game following a difficult and physical loss against Revolución Tijuana at Estadio Furati, but the Express made their first visit to San Diego memorable. Even after falling behind 10-4 after three quarters the visitors never gave up, scoring four unanswered goals in the final quarter to make the game that much more exciting. The match could very well have been a preview of upcoming PASL playoffs, as Turlock sits just behind San Diego in the Western Division.

Kraig Chiles, who recorded another hat trick on the way to four goals for the night, started the scoring in the sixth minute when he fired a shot past Turlock’s goalkeeper Javier Rosales for an unassisted goal. Eight minutes later Susi got his 498th career point when he converted a feed from Ze Roberto for a goal to make it 2-0 Sockers. But mere seconds later Turlock would cut the lead in half when Jesse Horta scored on the restart. It would not be the last time the Express would answer a Sockers’ goal in less than a minute.

The second quarter began with hard attacks and counter-attacks before Chiles netted his second goal of the night on a power play in the ninth, with the assist going to Eduardo Velez. However Turlock answered back with their own power play goal less than two minutes later. Velez was not finished, as he added an assist on an Eric Wunderle goal in the twelfth minute, then scored unassisted less than a minute before the end of the half to give the Sockers a 5-2 lead.

Kraig Chiles fires a shot that would catch the upper right corner for his fourth goal of the night

The Sockers opened the second half with an early power play, but a mistake on the attack allowed the Express’s Martin Arista to break loose and score a shorthanded goal in the third minute. Chiles then scored one of those goals that deserves to be on a highlight reel, firing a right-footed shot as he crossed in front of the box. The shot looked as if it would miss high and right, but then curved in to catch the upper corner of the goal.

Once again Turlock would strike back in a matter of seconds, as Eduardo Meza took a feed from Jorge Quiroz and beat Sockers’ goalie Riley Swift. The rest of the third period, though, was all Sockers as Chiles, Majel Aterado and Chiky Luna all found the back of the net. Possibly the biggest goal of the night, though, was the Sockers’ tenth and final score.

Susi had notched his 499th point in the twelfth minute when he fed Luna’s goal, and it was obvious the team wanted to help him get that magic number 500. It came in the fourteenth minute of the game as the veteran fought off the Express defense to slot a pass across the middle to an onrushing Wunderle. “I came up the side,” Susi said after the game, “and I knew Eric was coming up the middle, so I just got it across to him.” Normally it is a tradition that the player who scores gets to throw a souvenir ball into the crowd, but this time the honor was given to Susi for his 500th point.

In the fourth quarter Turlock seemed to finally figure out the Sockers’ rhythm and style and began to push harder. Uriel Robledo scored the first of four Express goals in the fourth minute, with the assist to Juan Flores. Then a scramble in front of the Sockers’ goal resulted in a Turlock shot hitting a defender, with the ball dribbling between the legs of an astonished Swift. Then Velez was called for holding in front of the goal and the Express was awarded a penalty shoot-out, which Quiroz converted to cut the Sockers’ lead to 3. Samual Saldate would score one last goal for the Express, but San Diego was able to hold on for the final two minutes to secure the victory.

Aaron Susi celebrates his 500th career point.

After the game, head coach Phil Salvagio talked about the first meeting between the Sockers and Express. “They’re a very good team and it was a semi-final Open Cup game,” he said, “so you’re going to get the best; nobody is going to give up.” Salvagio explained that the Sockers had been watching Turlock closely leading up to this first meeting and had a good idea of what to expect. “I knew as soon as they got some goals they would be very emotional and have a good time,” Salvagio said. “That’s why they do the dancing, they play with emotion. We did a good job of keeping their emotions down for three and a half quarters.”

Along with all of the other drama of the night, there was the additional emotion of the match counting as the Western semifinal for the U.S. Open Cup. By winning this game, San Diego earned the right to meet the winner of the Eastern semifinal, which will be between Detroit WAZA and the Cincinnati Kings. The Sockers are two-time U.S. Open Cup champions and look forward to adding a third title to the growing ranks of banners at the Del Mar Arena.

The game also marked the debut of the newest member of the Sockers, Antonio Sutton, who signed a contract earlier in the week. Sutton, the former player/coach of the defunct California Cougars, was happy to return to the field. In some ways it was almost as much a return as a new beginning, since Sutton had played with Brian Farber and Majell Aterado on the Cougars and with Susi back when the two were playing in Cleveland.

“It was pretty easy for me to jump in and play with the Sockers because we (Cougars) had some tough battles with them” Sutton explained. “As a coach I studied the players and the team’s tendencies, so I had a good idea going in. They welcomed me as soon as I walked into the locker room.”

The Sockers have no time to relax, as they catch an early bus for Phoenix on Sunday where they will take on the newly-renamed Arizona Storm. They then travel to Anaheim to meet the Bolts in the fourth leg of the I-5 Rivalry on Friday, January 27, before returning home on Saturday, January 28, against Tijuana.

Related Articles: SD Sockers on SoccerNation

All Photos: Stephen Prendergast for SoccerNation

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