DENVER, CO – It took overtime and shootouts to maintain their unbeaten streak, but the Colorado Blizzard got the job done against the San Diego Sockers 2 squad by the score of 7-6.
It was a memorable night at the Denver Coliseum for the several thousand in attendance. The Blizzard honored a fallen police officer, Deputy Zackari Parrish of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, with a moment of silence while the Castle Rock Police Department’s Color Guard displayed the colors near midfield. Also, in conjunction with law enforcement officials, the team accepted donations for Deputy Parrish’s family. Admission for all first responders was complimentary, as part of the event, too.
Another memorable moment was the announcement that renowned former FIFA Referee, Esse Baharmast, who lives in Golden, CO, was going to venture back into pro indoor soccer and work the game alongside MASL2 Head Referee, Graeme Florance. Among Mr. Baharmast’s accomplishments are working two games in the 1998 World Cup, at one time being the Director of Officials for US Soccer, and working the first ever MLS match, between the San Jose Clash and D.C United in 1996.
The two referees would earn their pay. The game saw plenty of hard-hitting, end-to-end action, several penalties, a penalty kick that was converted by Andrew Lorei of the Sockers 2, sudden death overtime, and shootouts.
The Blizzard jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on a goal by Cody Stratton and a long-distance strike by Andrew Meija. The aforementioned Lorei penalty kick conversion cut the Blizzard lead to 2-1. In the second period, teams traded goals back-and-forth, each netting two. Chad Hagerty’s second goal of the period came a mere five seconds after Luke Burgard scored to put the Blizzard up 4-2. As the teams headed to the locker rooms for halftime, the Blizzard were on top 4-3.
The game picked up exactly where it left off. The two teams proceeded to trade goals through the third and most of the fourth. With 5:47 to go in regulation, down 6-5, the Sockers Jared Hegardt, scored the equalizer. Despite several near misses from both teams as time dwindled, when the buzzer sounded the score was still knotted up, 6-6. On to sudden death.
In OT the teams continued to battle, as the players gave their all. There were shots and blocks, close calls and great saves, but after the ten minutes of bonus soccer had expired it was still 6-6. The game would have to be decided by shootouts.
Shootouts, in arena soccer, are best-of-three, dribble-up from the yellow line, attempts at goal. Attacker versus goalkeeper, one-on-one. The attacker gets five seconds to try to score one past the other team’s goalkeeper, shooting more than once even, if time permits.
Blizzard goalkeeper Miguel Rosales, who had been stellar all night, stopped the first two attackers he faced. Next Stibe Torres converted his chance against Sockers emergency goalie, Head Coach Jeff Hughes, who had to fill in for an injured Ramon Torres. Torres was injured the night before while squaring off with the Colorado Inferno in Colorado Springs, a game the Sockers 2 dropped 10-2.
With the Blizzard up 1-0 in the shootout heading to the third round, Rosales faced Hagerty. If Chad scores, Hughes would have a chance to stop the next Blizzard shooter, forcing sudden death shootouts. But Miguel was not having it. He made his third consecutive stop to give the Blizzard the win, keeping their undefeated record (6-0) and sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference, just ahead of the Chicago Mustangs.
The Blizzard continue their home stand against the Las Vegas Knights on Saturday, February 10 at 7:05 pm and then the next afternoon, Sunday, February 11, against in-state rival Colorado Inferno at 3:05pm. On Saturday, February 17, the Blizzard host Ontario Fury II at 7:05 pm to wrap up their regular season home schedule. Tickets are available at www.axs.com or at the Coliseum box-office.