Perez Applies the Sting in Overtime Win : Midfielder’s Goal Helps Sockers Rally Past Penalties and Chicago, 5-4
Hugo Perez said it’s a certain instinct that cannot be described. He just knows when the open shot is there.
Former teammate Greg Ion allowed Perez the opportunity in overtime Tuesday night, and midfielder Perez connected on an open shot to give the Sockers a 5-4 comeback victory over the Chicago Sting before 8,755 fans at the San Diego Sports Arena.
The victory gives the Sockers, who are 5-0 at home, a half-game lead over the second-place Tacoma Stars in the Major Indoor Soccer League’s Western Division. Chicago, whose four-game winning streak ended, is a half-game behind the Baltimore Blast in the Eastern Division.
Perez took a pass from goalkeeper Jim Gorsek and dribbled the length of the field before he slipped past Ion at the red line. Perez was 20 yards in front of the penalty box when he shot.
“I just wanted to dribble,” said Perez, who led the Sockers with two goals and two assists. “Greg kept backing up. As soon as I went past him, I knew I could score.”
Brian Quinn sent the game into overtime when he scored with 1:19 left to play, tying the score, 4-4. Quinn took a pass from Perez at the red line and scored from just above the arc. It was the first time the Sockers had scored a goal this season after pulling their goalkeeper. Fernando Clavijo played as the sixth attacker, replacing Gorsek with 3:09 left to play.
The Sockers, after suffering through a dismal first half, dominated the third period, scoring two goals to reduce Chicago’s lead to 4-3 by the end of the period.
Trailing 4-1, the Sockers cut the lead to 4-2 less than three minutes into the second half when Gus Mokalis took Raffaele Ruotolo’s hard shot off the glass and scored from the center of the penalty box. It was Mokalis’ first goal of the season.
Paul Dougherty cut the Stings’ lead to 4-3 with his goal late in the third period. Perez had passed to Quinn, who was sliding across the penalty box. Quinn missed the pass, but Dougherty was right behind him.
By the end of the first half, the Sockers had already had the most points scored against them since their season-opening 5-3 loss to the Wichita Wings. Chicago led, 4-1, after Batata passed to Ben Collins, who sprinted to the front of the goal and slipped a shot just over the head of Gorsek with 5:42 left in the second period.
“The first half was a complete mess-up for us,” Socker Coach Ron Newman said. “The second half is when the game began.”
Early in the second quarter, the Sockers were charged with four two-minute penalties, during which Chicago scored twice. The Sockers were left with three field players and Gorsek in the goal after Fernando Clavijo picked up the Sockers’ sixth foul for tripping with 8:07 left in the first half. Seven seconds earlier, Mokalis received a yellow card for dissent when he questioned an official’s call.
Chicago scored one minute after Clavijo’s foul when Batata’s shot from the top of the penalty box skipped off the inside post and into the goal.
Less than a minute later, Charlie Fajkus took Batata’s rebounding shot off the top of the post and headed it in from five yards out to increase the Stings’ lead to 3-1.
Chicago opened the scoring late in the first period when Batata took a pass at midfield from goalkeeper Chris Vaccaro and dribbled to the top of the arc. He caught Gorsek going in the other direction and fired into the right corner of the goal.
The Sockers tied the score two minutes later on a power-play goal, after Batata tripped Quinn, picking up Chicago’s sixth penalty. The Sockers scored 42 seconds into the power play when Quinn passed to Perez at the top of the arc and Perez squeezed a kick between a charging Paul Krumpe and Ion.
Socker Notes Leading scorer Branko Segota (right groin strain), goalkeeper Zoltan Toth (left arch bruise) and defender George Katakalidis (fractured toe) sat out Tuesday night’s game with injuries. Juli Veee was sidelined as part of his 30-day suspension for slapping assistant coach Johan Aarnio after the Minnesota game Nov. 22.