The Coast News Group
Team captain Aaron Susi tosses a souvenir soccer ball into the stands after scoring one of his three goals Saturday night in the 13-1 win over the Arizona Storm. Photo by Tony Cagala
Rancho Santa Fe Lead Story Sports

Sockers undefeated season, winning streak continues

DEL MAR — Saturday night’s 13-1 rout over the Arizona Storm signaled the continuance of the Sockers’ undefeated season and their 32nd consecutive win since Dec. 27, 2010, marking them the third team in U.S. professional sports history for longest winning streaks.The Sockers are now one game away from tying the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers’ winning streak of 33 games and eight games behind the 2005-2008 Sioux Falls Storm’s 40 game winning streak of the since discontinued United Indoor Football League.But the 13-1 final score meant more than the continuation of a season of success — it meant that as many number of goals scored went as many souvenir autographed soccer balls into the stands from the bevy of Sockers’ scorers.It’s been a tradition of the Sockers since the 1980s to throw a ball into the stands after each goal scored. Once the team came back to San Diego in 2009, the tradition was restored.Jerry Mosier, who works in the team’s equipment department, said he brings out 15-20 of the autographed balls before each game, depending on who the team is playing. Against the last place Storm, Mosier brought out 20, saying he had the feeling that the scoring would be high during the game.

Mikel Palmerin gets the crowd riled up after scoring the first goal of his PASL career. Photo by Tony Cagala
Several Sockers scored, including team captain Aaron Susi, who scored three goals, Eduardo Velez, scoring twice and Brian Farber, who also scored three goals. Mikel Palmerin scored the first goal of his PASL career in the third quarter. Palmerin, who made the team three years ago after open tryouts, was more excited about scoring his first goal.

“It’s a lot of weight off the shoulders,” Palmerin said. “I know I can score goals, and right now they’ve…asked me to play a little more defensively, but I’m here to show everyone I can play and score some goals.”

After scoring, Palmerin was inducted into the tradition of tossing a ball into the stands of screaming fans.

“It was crazy; it was wild,” he said. “The house was packed and I had a lot of fans here supporting me, the two teams I coach and my parents and everyone; it’s something everyone’s been waiting for,” he added.

Team MVP and leading scorer Kraig Chiles, who sat out the game after injuring his MCL during the team’s winning of the FIFRA Championships in Monterrey, Mexico, said there’s an art to launching the soccer balls into the stands.

“I would normally kick them out, but I think I chunked a couple and almost buzzed the head on a couple of the season ticket holders in the front, and I’ve since changed my tactics a little bit,” he said. “I stick to throwing them now unless I’m real confident that day, then I’ll go for the old kick.

When he throws one of the balls out it’s usually to a predetermined spot in the crowd, he explained. “I will get asked…at least once or twice before the game by little kids and they’ll point their little section out and they’ll tell me where they’re sitting and I’ll zing them up to them.”

Chiles said it helps get the crowd riled up and it’s nice for some of these younger kids to go home with a souvenir and maybe even a ball to play with that they might not have. “It’s not like they set it on the mantle and stare at it every day. It’s a ball to use, that’s for sure. I think it’s fun,” he added.

The Sockers final home game of the season is Feb. 25 against the Tacoma Stars before beginning the PASL finals at the Del Mar Arena March 9 through March 10. The Feb. 18 U.S. Open Championship has been rescheduled to March 3.