Late Sonoma goal sinks Sacramento’s comeback bid

Archrivals Sacramento Gold FC and the Sonoma County Sol kicked off their respective NPSL regular season schedules against each other Saturday, with the visiting Sol edging the Gold 3-1 at Capital Christian High School in the NPSL National Game of the Week.

Both teams brought some serious credentials, each previously winning a national championship.  The Sol won the title in 2009, and the Gold did the same the following year.

Ivan Barba got the scoring started, while Omar Nuno netted the eventual game-winner. Andrew Robles brought the Gold back into the game, but Allan Estrada would put the game away late.

With both teams trying to shake off the off-season rust, the game itself started off slow, most of the action taking place in the middle third of the field. However, as the game passed the half hour mark, the action began to heat up.

Sacramento’s Manolo Piña nearly broke the deadlock twice, first with a twisting shot during a scramble in front of goal which saw the ball careen off the crossbar. Piña then sent a shot at the far post, though it was blocked by a Sonoma defender. Piña was able to get the rebound, but his shot was above the bar.

Those near misses proved costly in the 44th minute, when Barba slipped a shot into the back of the net to put the visitors on top 1-0 going into halftime.

In the 54th minute, Nuno earned a bit of redemption. Having missed a point blank shot in the first half, Nuno made a nifty move to get by a Gold defender and chipped the ball over Sacramento goalkeeper Phillip Bru. The ball sailed into the back of the net for a 2-0 Sol lead.

The Gold would fight back, cutting the lead in half in the 61st minute. The goal came courtesy of the foot of Robles, whose laser shot from the middle of the box flew by Sonoma goalkeeper Arturo Ornelas and made it a 2-1 game.

Sacramento held an edge in possession and tried to create an equalizer, but to no avail. Sonoma would ice its win in the 80th minute, when Estrada hit a beautiful curling shot just into the front post to make the final count 3-1.

The teams will now head in opposite directions. Sonoma will return to Santa Rosa for its home opener against the East Bay Stompers. Sacramento, meanwhile, will hit the road for the first time in 2017 in its first ever matchup with the Napa Valley 1839. Both matches will take place at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 1.

Nuno was named Man of the Match honor after scoring the eventual game-winner.

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