By Daniel Cermak/NPSL.com
The 2009 Sonoma County Sol was recently named the Best NPSL Team of All-Time following a
strong turnout and winning the fan vote. The 2009 squad won the NPSL National Championship
in undefeated fashion.
“It is a great recognition for the Sonoma County soccer community and the Sol,” former Sonoma
County Sol head coach Benjamin Ziemer said. “We have a vibrant local soccer community, the
team was a reflection of the hard work and passion of many people who work at every age and
every level. I believe the club has now been in the NPSL longer than any other club and it is
fitting this 2009 team helps represent the club with this honor.”
The Sol’s rich history began in 2004, where they became a founding member of the NPSL.
Before their championship in 2009, the Sol made semi-final runs in 2007 and 2008 and were
NPSL runners-up in 2005. With two straight semi-final appearances under their belt, Sol were
primed for the 2009 season that also saw them reach the second round of the U.S. Open Cup.
The Sol tore through the NPSL regular season recording nine wins and just three draws. The
squad ended with a goal differential of +32, good for the best in the league by a massive 15
goals. The Sol continued their success into the playoffs, running through the Western Division
before advancing to the national semifinals where they were able to overcome their semifinal
demons with a 4-1 victory over Minnesota TwinStars FC. In the NPSL final, the Sol met up with
the Erie Admirals and came out with a 2-1 victory and the title of NPSL National Champions.
Ziemer credits his roster for the strong successes of the season.
“This team was so stacked, it would be unfair to identify one or two based on their footballing
ability,” Ziemer said. “We had most of the top players to ever play in Sonoma County,
combining Sonoma State U alumni with Santa Rosa Junior College alumni as well as player
representation from many of the youth clubs in Sonoma County. Chris Daly, our center
midfielder, should be singled out because he was a part of every Sol team reaching a National
Premier Soccer League final four. He was a warrior and leader during the 2009 season and he
worked tirelessly off the field to ensure this club survived. We also had an old-timer, Shawn
Percell, whose experience and motivation was important, as well as the off the field energy
fundraising and spreading the word.”
Chris Daly played a major role for Sonoma County Sol both on and off the pitch. Ahead of the
2009 season, the previous board had stepped away from the club, leaving it on the brink of
folding. Daly wasn’t having it, however, and texted all the players he could to meet up for pizza
to save the team. That is where Daly and the other members formed their own board and started
on the journey.
“That season the journey to the championship was tough,” Daly said. “We played a lot of great
teams in our league. We played in the USASA Regional Tournament so that we could qualify
for the U.S. Open Cup that season, which we ended up winning and qualifying for. We had to travel to Florida for the USASA final four the weekend before the NPSL final four. Two cross
country trips in 10 days was no easy task, especially for a group of guys who all worked jobs and
had families. When we won that title it felt absolutely amazing knowing that all of our
commitment on the field as well as all of our hard work off the field which most players never
have to deal with was worth it.”
Shawn Percell was a coach with Sonoma State University and a number of players were a part of
SSU teams that made deep runs in Division II soccer. The 2007 SSU squad nearly won a
national championship and Percell felt that those players were particularly motivated with the
Sol in 2009.
“Winning the 2009 NSPL Championship was redemption for the SSU teams that did not win the
NCAA Championship,” Percell said.
The 2009 season was full of road trips, late nights, and early flights. But after fighting to keep
the club running, each and every player and coach was committed to bringing home a
championship, and they did so in dominant fashion. The team banded together again to make a
drastic comeback in the social media voting and earned the title of the NPSL’s top team.