Sockers beat Tacoma, advance to conference finals

Sockers goalie Chris Toth makes a save during a game last season against Tacoma.
Sockers goalie Chris Toth makes a save during a game last season against Tacoma. (Courtesy of the Sockers /)

Chris Toth’s dad was somewhere in the stands at Valley View Casino Center on Saturday night, no doubt feeling just a little more pride than usual.

Zoltan Toth played goalkeeper for seven seasons, in 152 games, and won five championships for the San Diego Sockers in 1984-90.


He never scored a playoff goal. Probably didn’t come close.

His son has that on him now.

In a score that was no fluke, Chris Toth pressed forward against the Tacoma Stars, no one challenged him, and when he arrived at the red line he ripped a wicked right-foot shot into the farthest upper right corner.

Tacoma goalie Danny Waltman was so stunned he never moved.

Toth’s tally gave San Diego a 3-0 lead in the second quarter, and the Sockers went on to win 9-3 in Game 2 of the Pacific Division finals in front of an announced crowd of 3,421.

The victory evened the series at 1-1 and forced a 15-minute mini-game to decide which team would advance to the one-game Western Conference finals.

The mini-game was just as lopsided.

The Sockers dominated, getting goals from Kraig Chiles, Raymundo Contreras, Hiram Ruiz, Cesar Cerda, Erick Tovar and Brian Farber to win 6-2.

San Diego will take on the Southwest Division winner, with Monterrey leading 1-0 heading into today’s Game 2 (and possible mini-game) against Sonora.

In the Sockers’ Game 2, they got goals from eight different players, with Brandon Escoto netting two.

When Toth, who had six saves, scored at 4:43 of the second period, Sockers media relations director Jonathan Greene dived into the team’s record book. There is no evidence that any San Diego goalie scored a goal in a playoff game.

Chris Toth grew up in San Diego’s North County, but rarely played goalkeeper until a congenital heart condition forced him into the nets in high school. He’s in his eighth season as a pro with the Sockers, and Saturday’s win was his 10th in the playoffs.

Toth went 10-2 in the regular season, sharing net time with Boris Pardo, who was 9-1.

Toth’s blast was indicative of the most of the Sockers’ scoring in the first half, when they forged a 5-2 lead. There wasn’t a lot of scrapping inside the box, with San Diego scoring all of its goals with perfectly placed laser shots.


Escoto, who was the team’s second-leading scorer during the regular season, notched his first two goals of the playoffs. He opened the scoring at 2:58 of the first with a hard shot from the right corner on a free-kick pass from Chiles.

After the Sockers’ Matt Clare doubled the lead at 8:40, Escoto made it 3-0 with 22 seconds left in the first when he dribbled uncontested and let loose a left-footed shot.

Nick Perera, a gangly, 6-foot-3 forward who had two different stints playing for the Sockers and led Tacoma in scoring this season, beat Toth with his own rocket less than two minutes into the second period to make it 3-1.

San Diego responded with Toth’s goal and another by Cerda with four minutes left in the half.

Forty-nine seconds later, the Stars’ Robert Palmer scored from long range to cut San Diego’s halftime margin to three.

Though the various incarnations of the Sockers have accounted for the 14 championship banners that hang at Valley View, the Sockers are trying to win a league title for the first time in four seasons.

Their last championship came in the PASL in 2013. After that season, they joined the MASL and have yet to reach a title series. For two straight years they’ve been eliminated by Sonora (2016 and ’17) in the conference final.

There is a chance Sonora may once again be the opponent in the conference series. The Sol, the regular-season champion of the Southwest Division, meets Mexican rival Monterrey today in the second game of their series, with Monterrey having captured Game 1.

Connect with us on Nextdoor

Like us on Facebook