OAKLAND, Calif. – In only took eight minutes for Nico Gonzalez to cap off one of Sacramento Gold FC’s best performances of the season with a hat trick in a 3-1 win over CD Aguiluchos in the 2015 NPSL regular season finale Saturday night at Raimondi Park.
Gonzalez, putting on the Sacramento Gold uniform for the first time this season, tallied goals in the 40th, 45th, and 48th minute to put the game in the Gold’s hands. League officials are working on finding out if the hat trick, which occurred in only eight minutes of game time, is the quickest in league history.
Gonzalez got the Gold started from the penalty spot after Nate Nugen had been brought down in the box. Stepping up to take it, Gonzalez blasted the shot by Aguiluchos goalkeeper Jesus Gomez. However, the center official signaled a player for stepping into the box too early, which meant a re-kick. Nonetheless, Gonzalez buried the second attempt as well to make it 1-0.
Five minutes later, Gonzalez again stepped up to take a kick, this time a free kick about 25 yards from goal. With players from both squads anticipating a lob to the center of the box, Gonzalez instead launched a rocket which flew into the left corner and doubled the score at 2-0.
Three minutes into the second half, Gonzalez stole the ball from the Aguiluchos right back and stormed towards goal. With Gomez coming out to meet him, Gonzalez chipped the ball over the goalkeeper’s grasp and into the back of the net, making it 3-0 for the visitors and stunning the home crowd.
Ross Middlemiss gave the home fans something to cheer about in the 80th minute. Taking a through ball from Adan Martinez up the middle, Middlemiss managed to chip Sacramento goalkeeper Max Herrera, who had replaced starting goalkeeper John Connolly minutes earlier, to put the score at 3-1.
It may have been Aguiluchos’ best chance since five minutes into the game. At the five-minute mark, the home squad worked the ball into the box to Middlemiss at the right side. Middlemiss spun and fired a shot which was saved by Rene Piña, who deflected it out for a corner kick,
Coincidentally, Aguiluchos’ next best chance came off a corner in the 18th minute. Martinez launched a corner from the right side, with a running Middlemiss meeting the ball with a header from the half circle. Fortunately for the visitors, Connolly was there to make the save.
Sacramento got its first big chance in the 25th minute. Sprinting to stop the ball from going out for a goal kick, Josue Araiza managed to send a high cross into the box. Gomez couldn’t get to the cross and the ball fell right to Nugen. However, both Nugen and Andrew Robles had their shots blocked by defenders.
Aguiluchos nearly opened the scoring twice just after the half hour mark. In the 33rd minute, Middlemiss nearly got on the end of a through ball up the middle. However, Connolly was able to get there in time to snuff it out.
Five minutes later, Simon Rawnsley got into space at the right top of the box. Rawnsley fired a shot to the opposite side of the goal, but Connolly again made the save. The Gold made Aguiluchos pay for the misses just minutes later.
The scoring nearly continued in the opening minute of the second half. Taking advantage of a poor clearance, Araiza stole the ball and sent across which eventually found Eliot Chambers alone on the left side of the box. Chambers could not get a foot on it and the home side escaped, albeit for only a couple minutes.
The next dangerous chance came in the 68th minute when Juan Mondragon stepped in front of a Gold pass, intercepted the ball and fired a shot at Goal. Like before, Connolly was up for the save.
Shortly after, the rain began to fall on Raimondi Park. With it came the end of the dangerous chances, as well as the win for the visitors.
With the night’s results, Sacramento clinches second place in the Golden Gate Conference with 23 points. The Gold also clinched at least the fourth seed in the West Region playoffs, meaning Sacramento will host a first round opponent on Saturday, July 11. Future results from around the league will determine who Sacramento plays in the first round. Stay tuned for updates.
LINEUPS/SUBSTITUTIONS: Sacramento Gold FC: G John Connolly (Max Herrera 77’), D Rene Piña, Fernando De Alba, Erick Vega, Danny Mititelu, M Andrew Robles, Nico Gonzalez, Danny Lomeli (Louis Heinzer 77’), Josue Araiza (Edric Soltero 65’), Eliot Chambers (Ali Radmand 69’), F Nate Nugen
CD Aguiluchos USA: GK Jesus Gomez, D Jose Prieto, Ricardo Guerra, Jesus Leon, Juan Mondragon, M Adan Martinez, Devin Collins, Flavio Ramos (Noel Prieto 55’), Froine Mathews, F Ross Middlemiss, Simon Rawnsley (Jesus Morales 55’)