SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Two goals from Manolo Piña capped off a four-goal second half which propelled Sacramento Gold FC to a resounding 5-1 win over the rival Sonoma County Sol Saturday at Capital Christian High School.
Sammy Gonzalez scored the Gold’s first goal, while Alex Bettencourt netted the third and was the last Sacramento player to touch the ball on the eventual game-winning own goal. Jared Robbins tallied Sonoma’s lone strike.
Gonzalez got the scoring started with a great defensive play in the 11th minute. As the Sol defense was trying to clear the ball, Gonzalez poked a foot in, stealing the ball and putting it past the defender in one motion. Gonzalez sprinted towards goal, held off another defender, and blasted a shot by Sonoma goalkeeper Sean Taufer for a 1-0 Gold lead.
The Sol leveled the score only five minutes later. Ivan Barba’s shot from the left side was deflected to the top of the box, where Robbins collected it. Robbins fired a rocket of a shot past Sacramento goalkeeper John Connolly and into the left of the net to make it 1-1.
The deadlock was broken a mere three minutes into the second half. Bettencourt made a run down the left side and sent a cross towards the box. Justin Ferreira went to intercept the pass. However, the ball deflected backwards, off Taufer, and into the net for an own goal and a 2-1 Gold lead.
Sacramento’s offense began to take over the game shortly after. The payoff began in the 68th minute, when Danny Lomeli got the ball on the left side of the box. Piña got the ball after making and overlapping run, sending a cross to an unmarked Bettencourt on the right side of the box. Bettencourt hammered a header which Taufer managed to snag. But, the ball had already gone over the goal line to make it 3-1.
The Gold struck again ten minutes later. Piña made another run down the left side, sending a pass across goal to Bettencourt. Bettencourt’s shot was blocked, but Piña snuck in and got a foot on the rebound. Piña put it away to increase Sacramento’s lead to 4-1.
Piña would put the finishing touch on the game in the 85th minute, with Andre Brown (making his Gold debut) giving him a masterful assist. Brown started by winning a bouncing ball in the defensive half, heading the ball back in bounds before running out of bounds and around a player to collect it again. Brown then sped down the right side, maneuvering himself past a pair of defenders. Brown put a cross on the doorstep, where Piña blasted the ball into the net to make the final count 5-1, the largest margin of victory in any game between these two teams.
Gonzalez nearly started scoring halfway before he did in nearly the exact same way. In the 11th minute, Gonzalez picked a defender’s pocket and fired a shot at goal. However, it sailed over the crossbar.
Sonoma got a pair of good chances in the early going. In the 18th minute, Ibrham Eladoiuli broke free down the right side and sprinted towards goal. Connolly came out and forced Eladoiuli to aim right. Eladoiuli aimed too far right, his shot hitting the outside of the netting.
Two minutes later, a bad defensive pass allowed Simon Wheatley to steal the ball. Wheatley quickly found Taylor Varnadore, who ran past the Gold defense. Varnadore launched a shot at goal, forcing Connolly to jump to his right and make a spectacular reflex save. Varnadore got the rebound, but sent the follow-up shot high.
After the first two goals, the Gold had a few good chances to take the lead towards the end of the first half. In the 33rd minute, Gonzalez played Josue Araiza over the top. However, Araiza’s shot sailed wide. Three minutes later, off a free kick, Bettencourt sent a cross to the far post, where Jose Martinez was sliding in. However, the ball was inches too far ahead of Martinez.
In the 42nd minute, Bettencourt found Andrew Robles on top of the box. Robles played a looping ball to the near post, where Martinez was headed. But, Martinez’s shot went wide right. Two minutes later, a bad defensive header fell to Araiza, who found Martinez on the right side. Martinez sent the ball to an open Gonzalez on top of the box. However, Gonzalez slipped on the shot.
In the second half, the Gold offense picked up where it left off. Bettencourt sent another great cross into the box, where Robles was waiting. However, Robles mistimed the jump and the ball bounced harmlessly out of bounds. Two minutes later, another Bettencourt cross gave Sacramento the lead for good.
This nearly wasn’t the case, as Sonoma got a pair of great chances in the following minutes. In the 50th minute, Eladoiuli dribbled down the middle and sent a long shot at goal. As the shot took a sharp dip, Connolly was forced to jump and tip the ball over the crossbar. On the ensuing corner kick, Varnadore headed the ball sharply at goal. However, Gonzalez was on the line to make a last-second clearance.
Soon, the Gold offense got rolling. In the 58th and 59th minutes, Sacramento had nearly identical plays which came close to extending its lead. Both times, Piña made a run down the left side of the box. Both times, Piña played the ball across goal. Both times, Chimdum Mez slid in to get the final touch. Both times, Mez was a split second too late.
Piña and Mez were also involved in similar chanes a bit later on. In the 61st minute, Piña collected a ball over the top and found himself one-on-one with Taufer. However, Taufer was able to get a foot on Piña’s shot to prevent a goal. In the 73rd minute, Piña played Mez over the top for a one-on-one. Again, Taufer was able to get his foot on the ball. Piña would eventually get his due, twice.
Sacramento will next head to Oakland for a road game against CD Aguiluchos USA. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 7 at Raimondi Park.
LINEUPS/SUBSTITUTIONS: Sacramento Gold FC: G John Connolly (Andres Olmedo 82’), D Andre Brown, Zach Ulrich (Danny Mititelu 82’), Fernando De Alba, Cesar Sosa, M Diego De Alba (Cesar Mendoza 31’), Andrew Robles (Danny Lomeli), Alex Bettencourt (Edric Soltero 82’), Sammy Gonzalez (Chimdum Mez 56’), F Jose Martinez, Josue Araiza (Manolo Piña 46’)
Sonoma County Sol: G Sean Taufer, D Nicholas Lombardi, Ivan Barba, Justin Ferreira, Jared Robbins (Miguel Santoyo 72’), M Simon Wheatly, Marco Barragan, Allan Estrada (Angel Acevedo 10’ [Jonathan Villeda 65’]), F Nico Spann, Taylor Varnedore, Ibrham Eladoiuli