ANAHEIM -- Six times the Anaheim Bolts surged ahead Saturday night, and as pluses go, that was a pretty good one.
Southern California's new pro indoor team will need time to gel, of course, but there were positives in its Professional Arena Soccer League debut at the Anaheim Convention Center.
It didn't end so wonderfully, with two-time defending PASL champ San Diego scoring the final five goals for a 10-6 victory, but that didn't diminish the occasion.
“It was awesome. An awesome experience,” said Bernie Lilavois, the Bolts' head coach and managing partner. “And to have the boys come out so fired up and have the lead almost 3½ quarters of the game, you couldn't write the book better, you know?”
Kraig Chiles scored three goals and assisted two more for the Sockers, who rallied from every deficit and took their first lead midway through the fourth quarter on Dan Antoniuk's blast off the crossbar from about 35 feet. It was lopsided the rest of the way, with Chiles, Nate Hetherington and Brian Farber adding goals.
“They're loaded with talent,” Lilavois said. “When it counted, they stepped up. ... [Our] boys fell apart. It's the lack of experience, honestly. We've got, like, two guys who have played indoors, and the rest of the guys are all indoor rookies. We just couldn't hold on. If it were three quarters, we would have won the game.”
Enrique Tovar scored the club's first official goal, providing a lead 4 minutes, 7 seconds in, and Miguel Sanchez, Adriano de Lima, Carlos Borja and Hugo Casillas, with two, added goals for Anaheim.
The Bolts weren't at full strength. Paul Wright, the biggest name on the roster, was a no-show -- a “late scratch,” Lilavois said, without going into detail.
Attendance wasn't anywhere near the 3,000 that Lilavois said would have the organization “doing cartwheels,” but it was a spirited crowd bolstered by a vocal section of Sockers supporters, and he found reason for optimism.
“Good atmosphere,” Lilavois said. “Obviously, we've got to get the word out, and I think this is going to spread the word. It will go like wildfire. People will tell other people what an exciting game, all these goals -- 16 goals were scored -- etc., etc. It was a good start.”
The Bolts play next week at San Diego and return home Dec. 2 against the Turlock Express.