Napa Valley 1839 FC began their 2018 National Premier Soccer League campaign with a bang last weekend defeating newcomer Academica SC 3-0. Saturday the opponent was a much more experienced side and it was proven in the final minutes of the match. When it seemed like  the Wine Country team would head back home with three golden points, a wonder strike from Sacramento Gold forward Daniel Mititelu shocked all the fans in attendance at Capital Christian Stadium.

Napa opened the game early on pressuring Sacramento and in the 15th minute saw their first clear opportunity as Max Alvarez dribbled past the backline and crossed a perfect ball to Francisco Mendoza, who was denied at the line by Gold’s goalkeeper Phillip Bru. Immediately they would respond with a clear chance inside Napa’s penalty box. Goalkeeper Javier Valdez denied Sacramento from getting on the board saving a shot with the tip of his foot.

Sacramento’s defense, led by former Sacramento Republic standout Dominik Jakubek, couldn’t stop 1839 from taking the lead. Mendoza got another opportunity at goal in the 26th minute and this time he wouldn’t disappoint, taking a strong well-placed shot from eighteen yards out.

The teams went into halftime with similar ball possession, but that wouldn’t be the case for the remaining 45 minutes. Napa dominated the midfield with great performances from midfielders Lukas Schubert, Adrian Calderon and Osvaldo “Balon” Vazquez. Center backs Jorge Lua and Juan Acosta, who were awarded Men of the Match for 1839 by head coach Jesus Medina, would also be key players.

“Our defense dominated, shots against our goal were minimal,” Acosta commented. “Unfortunately, one of those shots went in but that’s the nature of the game.  We possessed the ball coming out playing from the back, knocking it really well. I couldn’t be happier with how our team performed.”

Momentum would shift to Sacramento in the final five minutes of the match. A long ball from Sacramento’s right back Bradley Burkhart into Napa’s box would rebound off a defender and land in front of Mititelu, who calmly volleyed it past Valdez despite getting a hand on it in stoppage time. Immediately after 1839 midfielder Marco Reyes would get an opportunity, but would see his attempt go slightly wide.

The result left the 25 Napa Valley 1839 FC fans in shock but still applauding their team. After the match head coach Jesus Medina and his team thanked all the fans who made the trek to Sacramento.

“The team played an excellent game,” Medina concluded. “Great team work was demonstrated in all sectors of the field. They all played with character and strong personalities. Our team is finding a nice flow and control of our style and rhythm of play.”

Napa Valley 1839 FC will now travel to Turlock where they will face Academica SC at Academica Field for the second and final time of the season.  Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 pm on March 24th.  Sacramento Gold will host 2017 Golden Gate Conference champions CD Aguiluchos USA on March 24th at Capital Christian High School, also with a 7:00 pm start.

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