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Sockers spoil Tacoma Stars MASL debut, 8-3

Here's coverage from the Stars' website.

Below a report from the Sockers:

Kraig Chiles scored four goals and added an assist as the San Diego Sockers pushed past the Tacoma Stars 8-3 at the ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. Jeff Hughes, Mike Mercuriali, Anthony Medina and Dan Antoniuk also netted goals for the Sockers (9-3), who earned their third straight win and spoiled the Major Arena Soccer League debut of the Tacoma Stars.

The win capped a whirlwind week in the Pacific Northwest for the sport of arena soccer, as the Major Arena Soccer League saw the expansion Seattle Impact FC--a club beset by troubles both on and off the field from the outset--sell their MASL franchise rights to the Stars in a deal completed on Wednesday. Stars owner Lane Smith brought his franchise, a legacy name in the sport of arena soccer, up from the semi-pro Western Indoor Soccer League (WISL) to complete the Impact's 2014-15 schedule before taking over on their own in '15-16.

"It was actually a very good game, and a good night for our league," said Sockers head coach Phil Salvagio, who earned his 99th win on the Sockers bench, "Give credit to the Stars, they will be a good team in the future."

With less than 48 hours to organize their staff and move up from the tiny Tacoma Soccer Center to the modern ShoWare Center, the Stars still managed to draw a crowd of 885 to the Friday night game and put on a professional game presentation, a positive sign for the sport moving forward in a supportive soccer region.

"Nobody knew what to expect coming in, and I thought they played well in the first half to hold us down," said Salvagio, "We had to make some adjustments at halftime and get back to what we do well."

The Stars also showed their determination on the pitch, overcoming some early errors of inexperience, including their keeper twice running the ball out of his crease and being called for a penalty shot. The Sockers were shut out in the second quarter and only held a 3-2 lead at halftime.

Dan Antoniuk's goal on a back-post feed from Jeff Hughes, coming after a key steal from Raymundo Reza, gave the Sockers a 4-2 advantage less than four minutes into the third quarter. Chiles later completed his hat trick on a corner kick, then added his fourth of the game and 31st of the season late in the fourth quarter when Tacoma pulled their keeper for six attackers.

The performance increased Chiles' league-record point scoring streak to 57 games, and he recorded his fifth consecutive season total of 30+ goals. Chiles is the only Sockers player to score a goal in all twelve games this season.

Jeff Hughes scored a power play goal for San Diego, while defender Mike Mercuriali (SDSU) earned his first career MASL goal deflecting a Chiles assist home in the fourth quarter. Midfielder Chad Hagerty picked up his first assist of the year.

Sockers defender Ismael Hernandez, an import from Spain, made his debut on the field after joining the team last week in training. San Diego was without several regulars in their lineup, as forward Nick Perera and midfielder Brian Farber missed the trip to attend the National Soccer Coaches Association of America convention in Philadelphia, PA, while defender Evan McNeley rested a foot injury.

Midfielder Matias Kruger has also left the team on a leave of absence, returning to his home country of Argentina on a family matter.

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