Gonzalez, Sockers End Season on Positive Note
MIDLAND, TX—In many ways, the 90 minutes of Saturday’s season finale were a complete biography of the 2013 season for Sockers FC.
All of the elements that defined the summer—the potential for decisive offensive outbursts, a sometimes-permeable defense, and a tenacious resiliency—were evident during the 4-4 tie against the Laredo Heat at Grande Communications Stadium.
The Sockers ended the season 3-8-3 (12 points); combined with Houston’s loss to Oklahoma City on Saturday, the tie gave the Sockers sole possession of fourth place in the Mid-South division, the team’s highest finish since 2010.
The Heat (8-2-4, 28 points) will join the Austin Aztex in the PDL playoffs as the two representative clubs from the division. Austin finished 11-1-2 (35 points) to end Laredo’s four-year run atop the Mid-South.
The Sockers established control of the match early, when Joe Munoz—the franchise’s all-time career leader in goals and points—found the net for the first time this season in the 12th minute on an assist from Andres Maldonado. Over the next 20 minutes, forward David Gonzalez added two goals (one on another assist from Maldonado), and the Sockers built a 3-0 lead on their archrivals.
Shortly after, though, Heat forward VcMor Eligwe—a former Socker—put Laredo on the board with an assist from Yair Hernandez. In the 36th minute, just two minutes after Eligwe’s goal, Juan Ibarra converted a penalty kick to draw the Heat within 3-2.
In the second half, the Heat significantly increased their offensive pressure, controlling time of possession and field position for much of the period. The Heat took 20 shots in the second half, outshooting the Sockers on the night, 24-10. Sockers goalkeeper Robin Allard made a career-high 13 saves to keep his team in the match.
Laredo tied the game in the 60th minute on an unassisted goal from Joao Montero. A key momentum shift occurred during the 71st minute, when the Heat were awarded their second penalty kick of the game. Forward Leon Taylor took the shot for Laredo, sending a screaming line drive toward the bottom right corner of the goal. Allard, however, made a sensational diving save to deny the goal and—ultimately—salvage the match for the Sockers.
After the teams played an even match for the final 20 minutes, heartbreak seemed certain for the home squad when Ibarra gave Laredo a 4-3 lead in the 89th minute.
For many teams, especially those not in the hunt for a playoff spot, that would have been a catastrophic blow. For the Sockers, though, it was yet another opportunity to show the resolve that had been forged throughout the season. In stoppage time, Gonzalez completed his hat trick (just the third in franchise history) to give the Sockers a laudable finish to the year.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this group,” said head coach Warren Cottle. “They never stopped fighting.”
Although it may not have been the summer that the team envisioned on opening day, the Sockers gave the Permian Basin a team of strength and resolve and established a strong building block for the future.
· - The eight combined goals were the most ever at Grande Communications Stadium.
· - The Sockers’ four goals tied the team record for a single home game.
· - This marked the first time in franchise history that the Sockers earned standings points when allowing four or more goals.
FINAL PDL MID-SOUTH STANDINGS
Austin Aztex 11-1-2 35 points
Laredo Heat 8-2-4 28 points
Oklahoma City FC 8-4-2 26 points
Sockers FC 3-8-3 12 points
Houston Dutch Lions 3-9-2 11 points
El Paso Patriots 1-10-3 6 points
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