By Daniel Morales/Napa Valley 1839 FC
For the second consecutive year Napa Valley 1839 FC has begun its season with a victory against Academica SC. This time on the road, Napa was able to pull off the win on a rainy night at Academica Fields in Turlock, California.
“It’s always hard coming here, we expected a tough season opener and that’s exactly what occurred,” Napa Valley 1839 FC General Manager Tom Shutt said. “These are type of matches you win in any fashion, the guys adjusted to the field properly and earned three very important points.”
While many of the Napa players were familiar with Academica’s home, there were many new fresh faces, including that of newly assigned head coach Rogelio Ochoa.
In the opening minutes of the match Ochoa’s side struggled to adjust and faced many complications moving up the field. It wasn’t until the 34th minute when the first clear opportunity played out for the Wine Country side. Francisco Mendoza, a key returner and striker for Napa Valley, took a hard shot that bounced off Academica goalkeeper Alonso Lara and was hit to the back of the net by Alan Castillo.
Castillo, one of Napa’s new players, would eventually be ruled offside, diminishing the excitement of Napa fans that made the trek.
It wouldn’t take long for Academica to get their first clear opportunity. Turlock’s Ramiro Ceja would test Napa goalkeeper Robert Doeland via a free kick. Doeland would make a spectacular diving save to reject Ceja’s attempt in the 37th minute. Moments before the half Academica defender Jose Barriga would be ejected from the match after receiving his second yellow card.
To begin the second half, Napa would make no changes in the lineup but appeared more composed and comfortable on the pitch. In the 55th minute, the scoreless game would change after forward Jorge Lua was brought down and awarded a free kick just outside the Turlock goal box. Midfielder Adrian Calderon would be in charge of taking the free kick and succeeded with a hard dipping shot that got past Lara.
Minutes later Academica would respond with a collective play that led to hard shot taken by Gerardo Cazarez, going just wide of Doeland’s goal. Academica would keep pressuring until the very end but we’re punished with a goal by Napa Valley substitute Marco Reyes.
Reyes would seal the three points for Napa Valley 1839 FC in the 90th minute, collecting a cleared ball off an Academica corner kick at half field, dribbling all the way until getting it past by Lara.
“It took us some time to settle in but once we did we had clearer chances throughout the second half,“ Ochoa added.“I’m proud of the team as they stayed composed and disciplined as there were many fouls and tough tackles throughout the match. At the end of it all we wanted to start the season on a positive note and bring three crucial away points home.”
Napa Valley 1839 FC will now turn their focus on their international friendly against Mexico’s Club Deportivo Guadalajara Reserves (Chivas) on March 24 before returning to NPSL action on March 30th against El Farolito in their season home opener.
Academica SC will begin planning for their visit to Sonoma County Sol on March 16 at Casa Grande High School in Petaluma.
Photo Credit: Ian Burgeson/Napa Valley 1839 FC