Sockers claim another indoor soccer championship

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DEL MAR — The Sockers, version 3.0, defeated the Detroit Waza, 10-7, in front of a sizable gathering of raucous fans on March 10 to claim their third consecutive Professional Arena Soccer League championship and, in the process, extend their undefeated streak over the last two seasons to 36 consecutive games (the second-longest in professional sports history).

The Sockers were 23-0 this season, 18-0 in PASL play.

DEL MAR — The Sockers, version 3.0, defeated the Detroit Waza, 10-7, in front of a sizable gathering of raucous fans on March 10 to claim their third consecutive Professional Arena Soccer League championship and, in the process, extend their undefeated streak over the last two seasons to 36 consecutive games (the second-longest in professional sports history).

The Sockers were 23-0 this season, 18-0 in PASL play.

Though the attendance was not announced, fans filled most of the available seating at the Del Mar Arena and ringed the team on the field long after the final buzzer had sounded as players took turns hoisting the renamed Ron Newman Cup, the league’s championship playoff trophy.

Amid the swirling confetti and smiling faces was Sockers midfielder/forward Anthony Medina, the team’s East County connection.

Medina, 32, grew up in El Cajon, played youth soccer for the Hotspurs Soccer Club and earned league MVP honors his senior season at Valhalla High School.

He went on to earn both a degree (in business administration) as well as All-West Coast Conference honors at the University of San Francisco.
A member of the Junior Sockers early in his youth, he completed his “Sockers” odyssey by signing with the newest incarnation of the franchise upon its re-birth. This was his third PASL championship with the team.

“It never gets old — that’s why we play,” said Medina, who scored two goals in the title game victory against Detroit. “This time is just as sweet as the first.”

The Sockers will add their 13th league championship banner to those that currently hang from the arena rafter. Among the banners on display is one dedicated to Newman, the mastermind of the original Sockers, the team that captured the hearts and fancy of fans in the 1980s and 1990s.
Medina and his teammates are products of that heady era and continue to uphold the franchise’s winning tradition long after its legendary stars — Julie Vee, Kaz Deyna, Jean Willrich and Zoltan Toth, among others — have left the playing field.

That goes to show that as much as things may change, some things remain the same.

The Sockers received their stiffest challenge this season from the Waza, the PASL’s Eastern Division champion, after squeezing past the Kansas City Magic, 9-6, in the championship semifinals the previous evening.

Detroit (15-4) scored on two set plays to go up 2-0 in the opening minutes to put a chill into the championship proceedings. But the Sockers dynasty was not to be denied in a game that likely saw the fledgling PASL finally come of age.

Medina scored the Sockers’ first goal, and the rest remains the stuff of legend.

“As a player, your goal is to win a championship and we’ve been very successful at doing that,” the Valhalla grad said.

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