Tukwila, Wash. – Manolo Piña’s hat trick led Sacramento Gold FC to a stirring 4-3 comeback win in a thrilling, back-and-forth game against FC Tacoma 253 Sunday at Starfire Sports Center.
Piña scored the game winner with four minutes in regulation time. Johnny Muresan netted Sacramento’s other goal. For Tacoma, Sergio Martinez, Steven Wright, and Pedro Millan found the back of the net.
Piña’s third goal capped off Sacramento’s third rally of the game. Cuco Martinez sent a ball into the box, where Josue Araiza headed it to the penalty spot. Piña crashed the box, smashing it home to put the Gold up for good in the 86th minute.
The penalty spot was also where the Gold got on the board. After Tacoma took the lead in the first minute thanks to a slotted ball by Martinez, Sacramento got a chance when Fernando Cabadas was tripped up in the box in the 11th minute. The whistle blew and, 60 seconds later, Piña tied the game from the spot.
Wright put the hosts in the lead again in the 43rd minute. Left unmarked, Wright launched a shot which ricocheted off the right left post and in just before half.
In the 52nd minute, Josue Araiza lofted a ball into the box which Tacoma goalkeeper Wallis Lapsey could not field. Mureson cleaned up the rebound to tie the game at 2-2.
Seven minutes later, Martinez sent a ball across the face of goal right to Millan, who headed it in to put the hosts up again. The lead would last just six minutes, as Piña took advantage of a Tacoma turnover in the box and poked the ball by Lapsey to tie it at 3-3, 20 minutes before he gave Sacramento its first lead of the game.
The Gold offense got going early. In the sixth minute, Rene Piña sent a nice ball on the left to Cabadas, who just missed a chance for a header.
In the 16th minute, Sacramento was awarded a free kick just above the box. Piña sent a rifle shot which hit off the crossbar. A minute later, Araiza found Piña in the box, but his shot was blocked by a defender.
In the 20th minute, Erick Vega sent a pretty pass up the left to Piña, whose close-range shot was saved for a corner. Tacoma was able to clear the ball out of danger.
Muresan had a spell of brilliance starting in the 26th minute. Muresan sent a beautiful cross into Martinez, whose short-range shot was blocked by the keeper. Following a laser from Fernando De Alba off the corner, Muresan sent another classy ball to Araiza, who headed it over the net. It would be Sacramento’s last chance of the half.
The hosts nearly made it four goals in the 74th minute. Eli Gordley got on the end of a cross and seemed to send a perfect header into the left of the goal. However, Sacramento goalkeeper Max Herrera leapt to his right and made a diving save to deny Tacoma.
Herrera’s save would prove to be critical, as the Gold defense stiffened and didn’t allow another dangerous opportunity. Soon after, Piña put the visitors up for good.
Sacramento will have a week of rest before returning Saturday, May 30 for a home game against the San Francisco Stompers. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Capital Christian Center.
LINEUPS/SUBSTITUTIONS: Sacramento Gold FC: G Max Herrera, D Zach Ulrich (Nate Nugen 26’), Rene Piña, Erick Vega, Fernando De Alba (Andrew Robles 65’), M Nico Brioso (Danny Mititelu 73’), Fernando Cabadas (Padge McCullough 75’), Johnny Muresan (Abrahm Prado 65’), Josue Araiza (Danny Lomeli 65’), F Cuco Martinez, Manolo Piña
FC Tacoma 253: GK Wallis Lapsey, D Marco Dugo, Andrew Aur (Colin Dalrymple 78’), Eli Seye, Randcliffe McDouglas, M Matt Shaxton (Gienmarco Pressini 76’), Ian Hines-Ike (Sanuele Accinotti 53’), Sergio Marinez (Paul Aur 83’), F Eli Gordley (Abdinur Galgalo 80’), Steven Wright, Pedro Millan