Sonoma County takes down Stompers in rematch of last season’s playoff matchup; Garcia’s penalty-kick goal wasted

Powered by a pair of second-half goals, the Sonoma County Sol defeated East Bay FC 3-1 on Saturday at Casa Grande High School in Petaluma, taking three points in the teams’ first meeting since Sonoma won their 2016 opening-round playoff match by the same score.

Looking to bounce back from an opening-day loss at CD Aguiluchos USA, the Stompers appeared to still be reading from the same script — once again, two goals after the break ruined a halftime tie, and a late surge of strong possession and fierce attacks was insufficient to earn East Bay FC any gain in the standings.

“We played very good soccer,” said Stompers head coach Martin Sierra. “But at the end of the day, goals are what counts.”

Sonoma’s Diego Lopez put the game out of reach in the 72nd minute with a sharp drive from just inside the top left corner of the penalty area that Stompers goalkeeper Victor Meraz couldn’t stop. Sol took the lead for good right at the hour mark when Ryan Rohane charged into the six-yard box and headed home a corner kick.

East Bay FC equalized the score at 1-1 in the 29th minute after midfielder Arturo Gomez was taken down inside the penalty area. Defender Diego Garcia punched the resulting penalty kick just past the reach of Sonoma goalkeeper Sean Taufer.

Sonoma had taken the lead just moments earlier when forward Taylor Varnadore, who dominated the second half of the July 2016 playoff match with two goals and an assist, found space just outside the goal area in the 28th minute and headed home a ball from over the top.

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