By Daniel Morales/Napa Valley 1839 FC
The first National Premier Soccer League home match hosted by Napa Valley 1839 FC in 2020
had all the ingredients to make it a memorable one. A new head coach in Mark Corbett for the
home side, a whole new club in Project 51O for the NPSL, and a loud crowd of 350 in
attendance at Dodd Stadium. Unfortunately for Napa the newcomer out of Oakland prevented a
Early on it looked as if Napa would open the scoring sheet first as great opportunities arose via
the feet of Luis Ramirez.
Ramirez, a new striker for Napa Valley 1839 FC, saw his shot in front of goal go just wide of the
right post guarded by Oakland’s Kevin Gonzalez in the 21st minute. Minutes later Ramirez
would try his luck again only to see it go just wide of the opponent’s goal once more.
Going into halftime Napa appeared to have had control of the match but that quickly shifted
toward Project 51O’s side. A miscue from the home side on a set piece gave the visitors a 1-0
lead early in the half with Joseph Ristani being credited with the goal.
“I’ve only been here for three weeks now,” pointed out new Napa head coach Mark Corbett. “So
I’ve had limited time with the players trying to be solid in the defensive zone. That was really
our game plan coming in, trying to get them playing defensively. For them to score off set
pieces was really frustrating.”
Project 51O would strike again via Armon Maghieri, making it 2-0 in the 75th minute. This was
just minutes before Napa Valley 1839 FC defender Jorge Luis was ejected from the match after
receiving his second yellow card of the night.
Despite being down a man, the home side reacted quickly and got a goal back, cutting the lead in
half in 76th minute via a Ivan Sakou strike assisted by Gerardo Mendoza.
As the crowd in attendance at Dodd Stadium got louder so did Napa’s opportunities to tie the
match. In dramatic and heartbreaking fashion, Sakou would get another opportunity to give
Napa a chance to get back in the match. In the dying minutes Napa Valley 1839 FC midfield
Osvaldo Velazquez played Sakou a well-placed through ball that left him 1v1 with the visiting
goalkeeper. Sakou struck a ball that got by the goalkeeper only to see it hit the underside of the
crossbar before bouncing away from the goal line.
Napa Valley 1839 FC would receive a second ejection in the final minutes of the match, ending
the game with nine men on the field.
Corbett, who led Napa to a 1-0 win last week in his debut match against El Farolito, did credit
his side with having the resilience to battle despite playing with only nine men for part of the
“In previous years we could have lost a match like this one 4-0 or 5-0, but we dug in and nearly
tied it up,” Corbett said.
Napa Valley 1839 FC will now prepare for the Wine Country Derby against Sonoma County Sol
at Luchessi Field on Saturday, March 14. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 pm. Project 51O will
turn their focus to hosting their first-ever home match against Sacramento Gold FC at Merritt
College in Oakland on March 15.
Photo Credit: Mario Cendejas