By Daniel Morales/Napa Valley 1839 FC
Intense, emotional, and thrilling are just a few ways to describe the match between Napa Valley 1839 FC and defending Golden Gate Conference champions El Farolito.
Just four minutes into the match the 300 fans in attendance at Dodd Stadium witnessed El Farolito take the lead. Forward Ronaldo Herrera would be the man in charge of putting El Farolito in front after capitalizing on a gap left in Napa’s defensive back line, finishing a breakaway opportunity in front of Napa goalkeeper Robert Doeland.
What started as a disaster defensively for Napa quickly changed to a solid performance.
“The team played exceptional defense,” Napa Valley 1839 FC head coach Rogelio Ochoa said. “They stayed composed considering the early goal against. Those moments within a match can shift momentum but the team stayed focused and came back against a very good opponent. It speaks volumes about the teams culture and heart.”
And indeed Napa showed heart. Midway through the first half forward Alan Castillo would strike a hard shot that El Farolito goalkeeper Roberto Llamas could not contain, allowing Jorge Lua to capitalize on the rebound to tie the match 24 minutes in. Almost immediately Castillo would once again cause danger for the visitors, causing a penalty. Napa Valley 1839 FC captain Francisco Mendoza would be in charge of taking the penalty kick, but would fail to capitalize as he was denied by Llamas in the 34th minute.
Despite not taking advantage of a huge opportunity to take the lead Napa Valley 1839 FC would head into halftime with momentum still on their side.
To begin the second half it wouldn’t take long for Mendoza to make up for his missed penalty opportunity. Seven minutes in Napa’s striker dribbled up field and blasted a shot past Llamas, lighting up the fans in the stadium and making the score 2-1.
The visitors from San Francisco, whose supporters’ group Burrito Brava was in attendance, attempted to break Napa’s back line led by Doeland but could not find any gaps.
Fans witnessed an intense final minutes of the match that saw El Farolito get an ejection, Doeland make a spectacular save, and Napa almost score a third via Marco Reyes.
“It was a crazy and emotional game, we hope our fans enjoyed it as much as we did,” Mendoza said. “We’re very pleased. We had a task and we fulfilled it. Now to keep moving forward as this is just the beginning.”
Napa will now prepare to host East Bay FC Stompers on April 20th while El Farolito will return to San Francisco to face expansion side San Ramon FC at Boxer Stadium on April 6th.
Photo Credit: Mario Cendejas