FURY SET FOR SHOWDOWN WITH SAN DIEGO

by Bill Norris

The Ontario Fury, Driven by Mark Christopher Chevrolet, will put its five-game season-ending win streak on the line Sunday as it hopes to carry the momentum gained over the last three weeks into the Major Arena Soccer League’s Ron Newman Cup Championship Pacific Division series against the San Diego Sockers.

Game 1 of the best-of-three series will be at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego. Game 2 will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Citizens Business Bank Arena. If the two teams are tied after the two games, a 15-minute mini game will take place 15 minutes following the conclusion of Game 2.

After a rough start to the 2016-17 season, the Fury found its stride near the end of January, picking up a weather-shortened 6-5 win against Atletico Baja that started a run of eight wins in nine games that helped Ontario pass Tacoma for the final spot in the eight-team playoff tournament.

Leading the Fury during the stretch has been Leonardo de Oliveira. Signed in the offseason from the Detroit Waza Flo, de Oliveira finished the season as the league’s player of the month for February/March. During the Fury’s final five-game winning streak, he scored 22 points on 15 goals and seven assists, and he was voted the game’s first star in all five of the games. He was the league’s Player of the Week for Week 18, and was on the league’s Team of the Week in back-to-back weeks. He led the Fury with 31 goals (matching the team record) and 51 points.

The Fury also got a lift last week with the return of Nick Perera to the lineup. Perera, the team’s second leading scorer with 17 goals and 16 assists, missed four consecutive games representing the United States at the CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championships in the Bahamas. Perera brings an unique experience to the Fury’s playoff hopes, having spent the last two seasons with the Sockers.

Goaltender Joey Kapinos has also rounded into form during the Fury’s run. He allowed only five goals in four of the Fury’s five games during the most recent streak, helping lower his goals against average to 6.29 and raise his save percentage to .666.

Ontario will face a San Diego team that is a perennial favorite in the MASL, and they again won the Pacific Division’s regular season title with a 14-6 record. The Sockers only scored one more goal as a team this season than the Fury (149-148), but San Diego’s defense only allowed 90 shots into its net, compared to 132 by Ontario. Kraig Chiles, the all-time leading scorer in Sockers’ history, led the team against this season, scoring 39 goals and adding 12 assists. Chris Toth, who also played for the U.S. Beach Soccer team, will be expected to carry the load in goal, posting a 9-2 record with a 3.99 goals against average and a league best .815 save percentage.

Tickets for the series are on sale now through the Fury’s office. Fans wanting to go to San Diego can purchase tickets in the Fury rooting section for only $12 by calling 909-457-0252. Tickets for Game 2 at Citizens Business Bank Arena are also on sale through the Fury’s offices, with all tickets in the lower bowl selling for $10 and seats in the upper level for only $5. Tickets are also available for purchase at the Citizens Business Bank Arena and online at Ticketmaster.com.

Season tickets for the 2017-18 Ontario Fury season are also on sale now. Season ticket holders not only get the same seats for every Fury home game, but they also receive parking at Citizens Business Bank Arena, discounts on merchandise and camps and invitations to exclusive events with the team. Also, thanks to the Ticket Exchange Program, no ticket will go to waste. For information, go to OntarioFury.com or call 909-457-0252.