Tacoma Opens Postseason Play With San Diego

by Brett Gleason

TACOMA, Wash. -- The Tacoma Stars (13-7) are set to open the 2016 Major Arena Soccer League Playoffs with the first of two matches against the San Diego Sockers (13-7) this Wednesday, Mar. 2 at the ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington.

The two clubs will conclude their two-match series with a contest at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California on Sunday, Mar. 6.

If either club wins both matches in the series, they will move on to face Soles De Sonora (17-3) in the division finals. However, if each team wins a single match, regardless of score, a 15-minute mini game will be played following the conclusion of game two on Sunday.

Tacoma and San Diego have previously faced off three times this season, with the Sockers taking the season-series 2-1 by a combined score of 20-14. Four Stars players have scored multiple goals against the San Diego defense this season, including midfielder Michael Ramos, who has posted game-winning goals in each of Tacoma’s last two matches.

The two clubs have an extensive professional indoor soccer playoff history, having met in the Major Indoor Soccer League playoffs in three consecutive seasons from 1986-1988. San Diego triumphed over Tacoma 3-1 in the 1986 semifinals, while the Stars got revenge with a 4-3 semifinal series win in 1987. The final meeting between the two teams was in the 1988 division semifinals, which the Sockers took three games to one.

The Stars will enter the match without the club’s leading scorer, defender Adam West, but will carry three players who have tallied more than 20 points this season. Forward Derek Johnson has accumulated eight points over his last five games, including a pair of two-goal performances against Sonora and St. Louis.

Goalkeeper Danny Waltman has led the Stars defense all season, and currently ranks among the top five in the MASL in minutes (first, 1208:25), wins (tied-fourth, 13), and goals against average (fifth, 5.41). In three playoff matches for the Missouri Comets last season, Waltman tallied 39 saves on 52 shots (.750), and allowed an average of just 4.55 goals per game.

Following their efforts last weekend to vault the Stars into the playoffs, Waltman and Ramos each earned MASL Team of the Week honors for week 19. Against Ontario, Ramos notched his second consecutive game-winning goal, while Waltman tallied 10 saves on 14 shots.

San Diego forward Kraig Chiles leads the team with 28 goals and 27 assists for a total of 55 points, the second highest point total in the league. Chiles and midfielder Matt Clare have combined for 51 goals this season, or 37 percent of the Sockers total offense. Goalkeeper Chris Toth has spent 1066 minutes in the net for San Diego, recording 247 saves on 348 shots while allowing an average of 5.68 goals per game.

The Wednesday match is scheduled to kick off at 7:35 p.m. PT. Live stats can be found at www.maslsoccer.com, while a live webcast can be found at www.golivesportscast.com.

Season ticket packages for the Tacoma Stars 2016-17 season are available now. To purchase, call 1-844-STARS-TIME or visit the Stars online at www.tacomastars.com. The most up-to-date news and notes about the Stars 2015-16 season can be found by following the Stars on Twitter (@TacomaStarsSC) or liking the team on Facebook.