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Toth breaks MASL all-time saves record in San Diego

Chris Toth is now the goalkeeper for the Tacoma Stars, but the 2007 Fallbrook High School graduate began his Major Arena Soccer League career with the San Diego Sockers. Toth returned to San Diego for the Stars’ Saturday, Dec. 30, game against the Sockers at Pechanga Arena and set the all-time MASL record for saves.

Toth entered the Dec. 30 game needing three saves to tie Tacoma teammate Danny Waltman, whose off-season rotator cuff and bicep tendon surgery has kept him from playing during the 2023-2024 season. Toth made ten saves against the Sockers that night.

“It’s just work,” Toth said. “I just try to do everything I can for my team to win.”

Toth played for Mira Costa College after his Fallbrook High School graduation. The Sockers had ceased operations in 2004 but were revived in 2009 and became part of the Professional Arena Soccer League. Toth spent 2009-2010 on the Sockers’ developmental league team and split 2010-2011 between the reserves and the Sockers. He was in the nets for six 2010-2011 Sockers games. Toth was the Sockers’ backup goalie to Riley Swift for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013; Toth appeared in nine games in 2011-2012 and was 6-0 during the 2012-2013 regular season and 3‑0 in that year’s PASL playoffs. The 2013-2014 season was Toth’s first season as the Sockers’ primary goalie; he had a 12-3 record with 205 saves and was named to the all-PASL third team.

The Major Arena Soccer League was created in 2014 with the merger of the PASL and the Major Indoor Soccer League. Toth also had a 12-3 record for the 2014-15 season and made 181 saves. Toth and Boris Pardo split time in the nets for the Sockers during the next three seasons. Toth made 251 saves in 2015-2016 and was 11-7. His 11 regular-season starts in 2016-2017 resulted in a 9-2 record and 216 saves, and that year he was on the all-MASL first team and was the league’s goalkeeper of the year. He repeated his all-league first team and goalkeeper of the year honors in 2017-2018 when he posted a 10-2 record with 178 saves.

Toth has played for both the Fallbrook Fury club, which is now Villa FC, and for the Ontario Fury, who are now the Empire Strykers. The Ontario Fury joined the PASL in 2013 and transitioned to the MASL after the merger. In 2018, Toth, Sockers general manager Sean Bowers and Fury president Bernie Lilavois worked on a solution to increase playing time for both Pardo and Toth. Toth was traded to the Fury in November 2018.

The trade allowed Toth to start all 24 regular-season games for the 2018-2019 Fury. His 11-13 record includes five overtime losses, and he made 304 saves that season. The coronavirus shutdown ended the 2019‑2020 season with three games remaining on the Fury’s schedule; Toth posted an 11-7 record that year with 232 saves. He was also named the MASL goalkeeper of the year.

Toth signed with the Stars as a free agent for the 2020-2021 season. He played in seven of the Stars’ 11 regular-season games and made 119 saves. His contract with Tacoma was for one year, so Toth became a free agent and signed with Ontario for the 2021-2022 season. He posted a 6‑8 record and made 289 saves. The Fury became the Empire Strykers for the 2022-2023 season, when Toth was 12-9 with 301 saves.

The tiebreaker of head-to-head points cost the Strykers the final position in the 2022-2023 MASL playoffs. The team made several changes, and with Toth’s contract expiring he rejoined the Stars.

“I explored my options, and that was the best fit for me,” he said.

The Stars and the Sockers opened their 2023-2024 season against each other Dec. 3, in San Diego. Toth allowed 11 goals in the Sockers’ 11-6 victory.

“It was a tough game. San Diego’s a very talented team,” Toth said.

The 11 goals Toth allowed were not a career high. The Soles de Sonora played home games in a Hermosillo arena called Centro de Usos Multiples which was conducive to both teams scoring goals.

“That place is tiny, so that happens,” Toth said.

The Sockers took 23 shots on goal Dec. 3, and Toth made 12 saves. The Stars and Sockers played each other Dec. 9, in Tacoma; Toth made 11 saves while allowing seven goals in the Sockers’ 9-6 victory. MASL goalkeepers serve their own penalties, and two goals were scored when Toth was in the penalty box for tripping.

A 7-4 home win Dec. 17, against the Baltimore Blast gave Toth his first victory since returning to the Stars. He made 15 saves in that game.

The Stars traveled to Ontario for a Dec. 28 game against the Strykers. Toth made 18 saves against the team for which he played last season, and the Stars prevailed by a 7-5 margin.

“That was a big game for us,” Toth said. “We had a great game plan and we executed.”

The 9-3 Sockers triumph Dec. 30 made the Stars 0-3 against the Sockers for the season and 2-0 against the rest of the league.

“We’re a very good team,” Toth said.

The Sockers took 18 shots Dec. 30. Toth made 10 saves while allowing eight goals. The final goal was against a sixth attacker.

“We knew it was going to be difficult. The Sockers are a very good team,” he said.

Toth entered the game with 1,930 career MASL saves. The first shot of the game by either team was a goal by the Sockers’ Tavoy Morgan with 1 minutes 36 seconds elapsed. A goal by Tacoma’s Michael Ramos with 3:15 elapsed evened the score. Toth’s first save of the game was against a Leo De Oliveira shot with 6:44 elapsed. With 8:17 elapsed, Toth saved a shot by Brandon Escoto. Morgan’s goal with 1:13 left in the first period gave the Sockers a 2-1 lead.

As time ran out in the first quarter Kraig Chiles took a shot from the left side. Toth grabbed the ball for his 1,933rd career MASL save to end the period. The save tied Waltman’s MASL record.

The first shot of the second quarter was taken 14 seconds into the period. Drew Ruggles gave the Sockers a 3-1 lead with the goal. Chiles obtained the assist for his 399th career MASL point.

With 4:27 elapsed in the second quarter, Chiles took a shot from the left side for what would either be Chiles’ 400th career MASL point or Toth’s record-breaking 1,934th save. Toth dove and grabbed the ball.

Chiles has played for the Sockers since 2009.

“Chris is a friend of mine and a former teammate,” Chiles said.

“He was going for 400,” Toth said. “At least one of us got it.”

Toth thus obtained both his record-tying and record-breaking saves against Chiles.

“Chris is a really good goalie and that’s a big accomplishment, and for him to have those saves on me is special,” Chiles said.

The save also allowed Toth to break the record in San Diego.

“This is where I started my career,” he said. “It’s interesting how it worked out that way.”

Not only did Toth begin his professional playing career with the Sockers, but when the 34-year-old Toth was born his father was the Sockers’ goalkeeper. The Sockers retired Zoltan Toth’s uniform number in 2011.

“My dad’s number is up in the rafters,” Chris Toth said.

Nick Perera was with the 2010-2011 Sockers and returned to the team for the first two MASL seasons. Perera has been with the Stars since 2018-2019.

“He’s the best goalie in the league,” Perera said of Toth. “There are some incredible goalkeepers in this game, but to me he’s the most complete.”

Perera is one of the players with at least 400 MASL points; his three assists Dec. 30 gave him 421 in MASL play. Chiles ended the game with no further points.

Toth added a save against Morgan with 1:13 left in the first half, saved third-period shots by Gabriel Costa and Charlie Gonzalez, and stopped Chiles three times in the fourth period to end the game with 1,940 career MASL saves.

Joe Naiman can be reached by email at [email protected].

Author Bio

Joe Naiman, Writer

Joe Naiman has been writing for the Village News since 2001

 

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