Sacramento Gold FC’s 2018 National Premier Soccer League opener definitely didn’t lack drama, as a stoppage time goal salvaged a 1-1 draw with Napa Valley 1839 FC Saturday at Capital Christian High School.
Sacramento, which had been holding the majority of possession yet not converting, was down to injury time when a cross sent into the box was headed away by a Napa defender. The ball went right to Danny Mititelu, who took a touch and sent a rocket of a shot into the right side of the net. As the Gold celebrated their long-awaited breakthrough, the team was relieved to avoid a result that would be shocking considering last year’s results.
The Gold went 2-0-1 against Napa last season, outscoring their Wine Country opponents 8-2 over those three games. Ironically, the one draw was also earned at the death by Sacramento, when Roberto Mendoza’s stoppage time strike secured the 2-2 result in Napa.
It looked like things might go the same way early on when Dominik Jakubek played a nifty ball through to Kaba Alkebulan, who slotted it by goalkeeper Javier Valdez-Raya. However, Andrew Carlile was able to make the sliding stop on the goal line to preserve the stalemate in the sixth minute.
From there, Napa would get the majority of the good chances. The first two were created by Max Alvarez, who dished to Bryan Marin in the 15th minute and Francisco Mendoza five minutes later. But, goalkeeper Philip Bru was able to come up with saves both times.
However, it was a mistake from Bru that led to Napa’s goal. In the 23rd minute, Bru sent a pass up the middle that was intercepted by Mendoza about 25 yards from goal. Mendoza fired a quick shot that Bru couldn’t save, putting the visitors up 1-0 early.
The Gold would try to find an equalizer, but did not get a great chance until the 75th minute, when a header by Alkebulan was saved by a diving Valdez-Raya. However, Mititelu’s fantastic strike nearly 20 minutes later saved the result for Sacramento.
Before kickoff, a moment of silence was held for family members of three Sacramento Gold FC staff members – Owner John Nunan, Game Day/Community Relations Manager Wayne Novoa, and Physician Dr. Boris Ellyason – who recently passed away.
Sacramento will be back in action again at home on Saturday, March 24, when the Gold welcomes Golden Gate Conference rival CD Aguiluchos USA. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Capital Christian High School.