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Toth gets win in final regular-season game at Grand Old Arena

The San Diego Sockers have played home games at what was initially the San Diego Sports Arena and is currently Pechanga Arena, but for 2024-2025, the Sockers will be moving into Frontwave Arena in Oceanside. The final regular-season game at the Grand Old Arena was Saturday, March 30, against the Tacoma Stars, and 2007 Fallbrook High School graduate Chris Toth earned the goalkeeper win for the Stars.

“It’s a big deal,” Toth said. “To play here is a special thing.”

The Sockers franchise began as the Baltimore Comets in 1974, played as the San Diego Jaws in 1976, became the Las Vegas Quicksilvers for 1977, returned to San Diego as the Sockers in 1978, and first played indoor for the 1980-1981 season. The team played only indoor games after the 1984 outdoor season. The Sockers ceased operations after the 1996 season, returned to play in 2001, and ceased operations again in 2004. All of the indoor home games during those years were played at the Sports Arena. The Sockers were brought back in 2009 and played at the Del Mar Arena for three seasons before returning to the Grand Old Arena for the 2012-2013 season.

Toth played for the Sockers from 2010 to 2018, which includes six seasons in the Grand Old Arena.

“Playing goalkeeper here was an amazing thing, whether I was in net with the Sockers or Ontario or Tacoma. It’s always a special place to play here,” he said.

Toth was traded to the Ontario Fury in November 2018, allowing both him and current Sockers goalie Boris Pardo to play regularly. Toth signed with the Stars as a free agent for the 2020-2021 season. His contract with Tacoma was for one year, so Toth became a free agent and signed with the Fury for the 2021-2022 season. The Fury became the Empire Strykers for the 2022-2023 season. The Strykers sought to rebuild after last year, and Toth rejoined the Stars.

The Sockers won the Major Arena Soccer League’s Western Division championship for 2023-2024 and the Stars finished third. Toth had 15 wins, three regulation losses and one overtime loss during the regular season with three of those losses occurring against the Sockers and the other being a 5-3 game against the Monterrey Flash, who completed the regular season with a 24-0 record. Toth led the league with 273 saves.

Toth followed the loss to Monterrey with 22 saves in a 6-5 overtime victory Friday, Feb. 9, at Kansas City and 16 saves along with an assist Saturday, Feb. 10, in the Stars’ 12-6 win over St. Louis. Toth was named as the MASL goalkeeper of the week for that week, and he repeated his goalkeeper of the week designation when Tacoma won three games between Wednesday, March 13, and Saturday, March 16, including two against the second-place Chihuahua Savage while making 36 saves and allowing only 11 goals in those three games.

“It’s just a bonus,” Toth said of the league goalkeeper of the week honors. “I just play hard, and I try to win games.”

Toth also had assists in the Friday and Saturday, March 15-16 games. He had six assists during the regular season, and he also scored a goal Thursday, Jan. 25, at home against the Strykers. That goal with 2:18 remaining in regulation tied the game, and the Stars scored the winning goal 47 seconds later.

“It was a big moment,” Toth said.

Toth’s father, Zoltan, was also a goalkeeper and played six seasons with the indoor Sockers as well as their final outdoor season. Chris Toth was ten months old when his father played his final game at the San Diego Sports Arena. Zoltan Toth then spent two seasons with the St. Louis Storm, although his son was two years old when his father retired from playing. The Toth family moved from Oceanside to Fallbrook in 1996.

During the Sockers’ final season at the Grand Old Arena various former Sockers players were given the honor of the ceremonial first kick. Zoltan Toth had the ceremonial first kick for the Sockers’ final regular-season game at Pechanga Arena, kicking the ball to current Sockers captain Kraig Chiles.

“It’s a special moment for him and for the family,” Chris Toth said. “Thanks to the Sockers for having him. He loved this team.”

The Stars scored the first two goals of the game March 30, although the Sockers scored twice later in the first period. San Diego took a 6-5 lead with 7:52 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Toth was pulled for a sixth attacker with 3:29 left in the quarter. The Stars tied the game 40 seconds later, and Toth returned to the nets. A Stars goal with 2:18 remaining in regulation gave Tacoma a 7-6 lead, and after the Sockers went to a sixth attacker an empty net goal finalized the score at 8-6 in Tacoma’s favor.

“We knew it was their last regular-season game,” Toth said. “We wanted it.”

The Sockers took two shots in the final two minutes, but Toth saved both. He ended the game with 14 saves.

“We kept our winning streak alive,” Toth said. “We really needed this one.”

The win was the eighth in a row for the Stars. The streak was extended to nine consecutive games the following day with a 6-5 overtime victory at Empire; Toth played the first half and made nine saves.

Toth was named as the player of the game for March 30.

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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