Jones Hat Trick Not Enough as Fury Falls 10-6 to Visiting Sockers

by Gunnar Berndt

San Diego pulls away late, prevents Ontario from solidifying playoff position 

By Gunnar Berndt

Ontario, Calif. – The Ontario Fury suffered a 10-6 defeat at the hands of the high-flying San Diego Sockers on Thursday night, missing their chance to take a massive step toward finalizing their Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) playoff berth. While Fury defender Evan McNeley collected a goal and two assists in the game and his teammate and former U.S. international Jermaine Jones continued his attacking dominance by bagging a hat trick, it wasn’t enough for the duo’s team, which fell victim to the well-oiled Sockers attacking machine. Indoor legend Kraig Chiles led San Diego with a goal and two assists

In the fiercely contested opening quarter, Ontario’s Chris Toth showed why he is counted among the best goalkeepers in the MASL, twice denying the other ex-Stars and Stripes ace on the field, Landon Donovan, in quick succession. First, the 29-year-old displayed perfect positioning to keep out a close-range toe-poke from the midfielder. Then he did well do thwart Donovan’s attempted finish on a one-on-one following a through ball. The Fury subsequently came within inches of scoring at the other end, Jeff Hughes’ shot taking a deflection from Raymundo Contreras and bouncing off the left upright.

Just when everyone at Citizens Business Bank Arean thought the game’s first 15 minutes would elapse without a tally on the board, Jones produced hist first piece of magic by firing a right-footed rocket under the crossbar with a single second left on the clock.

The Sockers quickly equalized after the game’s first short break, ex-Ontario attacker Leonardo de Oliveira delivering the assist to Brandon Escoto. After Toth came up with two outstanding point-blank blocks against San Diego’s Cesar Cerda and Escoto, the vistors did claim the lead on a Chiles bullet from way outside the area that left the Fury netminder without a chance. Cerda would subsequently double the advantage on a setup play by Ze Roberto.

The third period gave rise to some hope for the home fans, Jones receiving the ball from DeBray Hollimon and bagging his second of the contest to cut the deficit to one, and Toth subsequently doing what he could to give Ontario a fighting chance. While the ex-Sockers standout came up with another excellent stop to keep out a wide open attempt by Escoto, he then found himself unable to prevent three consecutive opposition tallies.

First Ze Roberto picked out De Oliveira, followed by a wonder strike from Christian Gutierrez, who saw Toth too far off his line and hit a perfect ball from near his own penalty area that traveled the distance of the entire field before dipping into the net. After that, Christian Seguara finished off a pass by Donovan on a power play to make it 6-2, but the Fury players hinted they weren’t about to surrender when Evan McNeley tallied on a Thiago Goncalves assist to get his side within three before the end of the quarter.

Ontario would go on a tear in the game’s closing period, putting up another trio of goals to tie the match at 6-6. Jones converted a pass by Andy Reyes to complete his hat trick and McNeley collected the assist on each of the next two goals, Juan Carlos Gonzalez firing home from a difficult angle and Maicon de Abreu finding the much celebrated equalizer. However, just as the home crowd got increasingly energized, Chiles put up consecutive assists of his own to give put the Sockers back ahead at 8-6, Eduardo Velez and Travis Pittman adding to their goal-scoring accounts.

While the Fury desperately looked for a way back into the match, netminder Toth’s efforts inside the opposition half only led to a pair of late San Diego strikes into the open net. Juan Gonzalez and Cerda rounded out the score line at 10-6, with Segura providing the helper on the former’s tally.

The Fury will look to lock down a Pacific Division playoff berth when it takes on the visiting Monterrey Flash in the final game of its 2018-19 regular season on April 14. Tickets to all home games at Citizens Business Bank Arena may be purchased by clicking here or by calling 909-457-0252.