Playoff-bound Sockers fight Sol to scoreless draw

Beto Garcia dribbles the ball down field for the Sockers in the second half of Monday night's scoreless draw with the Albuquerque Sol at Grande Communications Stadium. (PHOTO: Saydee Bailey)

MIDLAND — On July 10, Sockers FC went to Laredo and earned the first win in franchise history on the Heat’s home pitch.  Monday night, the Sockers earned just one point in their quest for the Mid-South division title from a 0-0 draw against the Albuquerque Sol.

Pop quiz: following those two, with which game was Jeff VonHolle, Sockers assistant general manager and director of soccer operations, most pleased?

That’s right—the Sol game.

“We did not play well at all in Laredo, but we came away with three points. Tonight, we played incredibly better, but we only have one point to show for it,” VonHolle said. “But, that’s soccer.”

The Sockers were led by goalkeeper Nico Corti, who earned his second consecutive shutout. Although his “clean sheet” only reflected two saves, Corti was critical throughout the match. In the 83rd minute, he made a brilliant, one-handed save on a breakaway shot from Sol forward Luke Lawrence

After being outshot, 14-0, in the second half by the Heat, the Sockers played a much more complete game. They had several scoring opportunities and narrowly missed getting on the scoreboard throughout the match.

Having already clinched the second playoff berth in franchise history, the Sockers are now fighting for the Mid-South division title over their final two matches of the regular season. With four points—a win and tie or two wins—the Sockers will clinch their first-ever division championship. 

“Right now, we aren’t even focused on the playoffs,” Corti said. “We still have two matches left with a chance to win the division, so that’s what we’re thinking about for the next week.”

The Sockers conclude the regular season with games at Laredo (July 16) and at Houston (July 18). Once those are concluded, the team will know whether its first playoff game in seven years will be at home or on the road.

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