Temecula FC (1-2-1) scored early, battled for the entirety of the match with Southern California Sports Club (1-1-1), and scored again late on to earn a 2-0 victory in their 2017 National Premier Soccer League home opener which doubled as the National Game of the Week in the NPSL.
Coming off a tough start to the season, losing twice and drawing once, the Quails of Temecula went into their home opener in high spirits, looking for the club’s first victory of the 2017 NPSL season. In the lead up to the game, head coach Willie Donachie described the spirit in the team as “very good.”
“It’s difficult after having a bad start, but they are decent people and when you have good people you’ve always got a chance,” continued Donachie. “Today we’re stronger, more hopeful. We’ve got a strong team today, and at home we’re hoping to do well.”
Buoyed by a raucous crowd, Temecula began the match about as well as any match could be started. Good combination play up the left flank between Quails’ Ricardo Gonzalez and Joseph Ciochetto led to an early opportunity for Temecula that was cleared behind So Cal SC’s goal. From the resulting corner kick, center back Steven Lamberta rose highest to power home a header and give Temecula a 1-0 lead just five minutes into the game.
So Cal SC, in just its second year in the NPSL has already built a strong reputation for playing a quick, technical style of soccer and that style was on display on Saturday night in Temecula as the club from San Bernardino responded well to going behind. SoCal’s midfield possessed the ball with purpose, and looked to pry Temecula’s defense apart with sharp, short passes and slotted through balls to strikers Edmilson and Rhonald Quejada, only to be foiled by a combination of stout Temecula defending and vigilant officiating from the assistant referee who flagged SoCal offside 5 times in the first half alone.
The match was played in good spirit, but there was a period midway through the first half when a series of yellow cards were shown to players from both Temecula and SoCal for dangerous play as first Simon Bourgeois-Dumas of Temecula and then Edmilson were booked as they attempted to control balls that were floating around head-height with their feet. Temecula goalkeeper Brent Reis was also booked for dissent.
Temecula FC gave as good as they got in this game. Led by captain Brent Zahn, the Quails fashioned chance after chance and looked to grow stronger as the match wore on. In the second half, SoCal SC’s goalkeeper Tyler Wilson was the only force preventing Temecula from scoring again. Wilson made a slew of saves and came off his line several times to quell the threat of Temecula’s direct play, clearing the ball with authority.
In the 89th minute Wilson’s save led to a corner kick for Temecula from which James-William Hones Blanchet headed home the insurance goal to give the Quails a two-goal lead that Temecula held through stoppage time for a final score of 2-0.
After the match, SoCal SC General Manager Daniel Gamba was equally effusive in his praise for Temecula as he was dismissive of his own team’s performance.
“All the merits must go to Temecula, for bouncing back from two losses and getting to beat us last night. It was a lesson learn for us; at the NPSL there are no easy teams. We beat Temecula 4-1 during preseason, and our guys must have thought that it will not be a difficult game there, that’s the only thing that would explain a pathetic performance from our side. With very few exceptions, most of our players, specially the key ones, they didn’t performed well, and we must correct our mistakes on practice as soon as possible to start delivering better results or we would be reconsidering our aspirations within our conference.”
Temecula FC’s next match comes against league leaders Riverside Coras at home on Sunday, April 9th. So Cal SC resume competition on Saturday, April 8th at home in San Bernardino to Corinthians USA.