(ISN) – SAN DIEGO–Evan Mundine scored eight seconds into the game as the San Diego Sockers rolled past the Tacoma Stars 13-4 in front of a PASL/MASL team record crowd of 7,311 at the Valley View Casino Center. Signed to a one-game contract on Thursday, the 17-year-old capped a magical day when he teamed with longtime friend Brian Farber on the game’s opening goal.
Afflicted with Crohn’s disease, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and ulcerative colitis, Mundine saw a top-flight youth career on the soccer pitch sidelined due to illness. He signed a one-game, $2,000 deal, the highest single-game contract in Major Arena Soccer League history, and validated the team’s decision by netting the fastest goal to start a career in the history of the San Diego Sockers.
“I knew this would be a day I would never forget,” said Mundine, “It means a whole lot to share the moment with Brian (Farber). It’s hard to put into words.”
“This is bigger than the game,” said Sockers head coach Phil Salvagio, who saw his side win their seventh straight (13-3), “When Evan was introduced, the crowd was so loud…it gave me goosebumps.”
The visiting Tacoma Stars were also inspired and rose up to play their best half of soccer since joining the MASL in January, leveling the Sockers 2-2 through much of the second quarter. San Diego took a 4-2 lead into the half then erupted with five straight goals in the third to salt the game away.
Kraig Chiles and Brazilian rookie Ney each scored a hat trick for San Diego, with Chiles adding a pair of assists. Anthony Medina added two goals and two assists for the Sockers. Derek Johnson scored twice in the losing effort for Tacoma (3-14).
The Military Appreciation Night crowd stayed throughout the night and applauded as Mundine was awarded Man of the Match and interviewed postgame on the field.
“All in all, I felt really good. Better than I have in a long time, really,” said Mundine, “It was nice to get that feeling of being back on a team again. It was something I missed.”
“There were a few tense moments, but the Sockers always stick together, they’re a really good team.”
The lone blemish on the night came midway through the first quarter when forward Nick Perera, fifth in the MASL in scoring, was red carded for a head butt to the chest of Tacoma defender Michael Mrvac. By virtue of being sent off, Perera will automatically miss the Sockers’ next match, against the undefeated Baltimore Blast.
“It was a shameful, embarrassing decision by myself,” said Perera, “I apologize to all the Sockers fans.”
The Sockers and Blast will square off on Saturday, February 7th on Alumni Night, when the legends of decades past will again convene on the Valley View Casino Center for a halftime contest. The first 5,000 fans in attendance will receive a Sockers cowbell courtesy of B. Wood Insurance.