Game Details: Saturday, July 23rd, 7:00 pm, Mission Bay High School in San Diego
Ticket Details: Adults $10, Kids $3, available at ProSoccerSanDiego.com
The West Region final has to be one of the most intriguing matchups of the NPSL postseason. It pits Albion SC Pros, an expansion team that has experienced unprecedented success, against the Sonoma County Sol, one of the league’s oldest and most successful programs.
Albion SC Pros
Albion, the Southwest Conference champions, had an incredible regular season that included an undefeated record (8-0-4) in their first year in the NPSL. To put this into perspective, only three NPSL teams – out of a total of 82- still have an undefeated record at the moment.
Albion has blazed through the playoffs with wins over SoCal SC and OSA FC. Albion defeated SoCal SC 3-1 in penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw. It was a wild game, one marked by exceptional goalkeeping play and tough defense from the home side. The OSA FC match saw goals from forward Matt Clare and midfielder Raymundo Reza in a 2-1 win.
Clare is an offensive juggernaut and the key to the Albion offense, leading the team with 11 goals and seven assists. He has played for the likes of FC Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Rowdies, Norfolk SharX, Syracuse Silver Knights, Wichita Wings, Wichita B-52s, and the San Diego Sockers.
Their defense is led by captain Luke Staats, defender Ricky McKenzie, and goalkeeper Jean Antoine. Staats, who has spent time at both center back and left back, started all 11 games that he played in. McKenzie was also a dependable and consistent presence, making 10 starts. Antoine has seven clean sheets in league play, finishing with an impressive .416 GAA.
Antoine has been clutch in the playoffs, making save after save in every situation, including penalty shootouts. He may be the key to the match, a player capable of putting a stop to the Sol’s explosive attack.
Notable Quote: “The dream lives on another week. This organization works extremely hard in the community and we are excited to host the West Region final next weekend. It has been a fun year and we’re excited to welcome Sonoma County Sol next week. We will be preparing (for Sonoma Sol) like we have all season.” – Ziggy Korytoski, Albion SC Pros Head Coach
Sonoma County Sol
The Sonoma County Sol have set the standard for consistency and success with seven conference titles, one national title, and two national title game appearances as part of their winning legacy.
The Sol advanced to this year’s regional final thanks to a 3-1 win over East Bay FC Stompers and a 3-0 win over North County Battalion. Goals against the Stompers came from Taylor Varnadore (2) and Nico Spann. The game against North County saw two goals from Diego “Toluca” Lopez and another from Varnadore.
The Sol, a team that finished first in the conference with a record of 8-4-2, features a potent offense where 14 players scored during the regular season. The leader among the group is Lopez, who finished the regular season with nine goals and five assists.
Outside back Nicholas “Ebby” Lombardi, who has played in the German fourth division, anchors the defense. Sean Taufer is a solid presence between the posts and finished with one clean sheet in the regular season.
Notable Quote: “The Sol are extremely happy with progressing to the West Region final for the sixth time. We have the U.S. Open Cup spot under our belt now and are making serious preparations for our match vs. Albion. Our regular season has prepared us well for the playoffs and we enter the quarterfinals as the lowest seed as a result of playing in an extremely difficult conference. We feel like we are getting better every game and with the depth of our squad we head to San Diego feeling strong.” – Greg Volker, Sonoma County Sol President