(Photo by John Virgen)
NAPA, Calif. – A stoppage time goal from Roberto Mendoza helped Sacramento Gold FC snatch a road point from Napa Valley 1839 in a 2-2 draw Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
It was a dramatic moment which elated the away team and sent the home fans back with heartbreak.
However, it looked like things would end at the opposite spectrum at first. Napa, searching for its first win in franchise history, struck in the third minute of the game through Bryan Marin, who took a through ball from Francisco Mendoza and slotted it by Gold goalkeeper John Connolly to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
Napa held the edge in possession for another 20 minutes, before the Gold capitalized on a defensive mistake. 1839 goalkeeper Javier Valdez-Raya misjudged a clearance, and defending Mire National Player of the Week Matt Wiesenfarth jumped on the ball, putting it in the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1. It was Wiesenfarth's sixth goal in three games.
The deadlock would last until just before the first half, when Francisco Mendoza took a long pass from the defense and sprinted down the left side, smashing the ball into the goal for a 2-1 halftime edge.
Sacramento created plenty of chances to draw level, including a near one-on-one chance ten minutes into the second half. However, Valdez-Raya was able to come up with a superb stop to keep the lead for the hosts.
In the dying moments of the match, when the Gold seemed certain to be sent home with a loss, Sacramento finally pulled even. Wiesenfarth led a counter attack up the right side, crossing the ball to Roberto Mendoza. The home crowd, who had been lifted by a Mendoza strike at the end of the first half, were distraught by a different kind of Mendoza goal, after the Gold midfielder buried the ball by Valdez-Raya, made the final count 2-2, and denied the 1839 win number one.
The result pushes Sacramento into a tie with the rival Sonoma County Sol for second place in the Golden Gate Conference at the halfway point of the season. After not drawing at all last season, this is the Gold's second even match in a row. Oddly, its only two ties last year also came in back-to-back games.
Sacramento Gold FC will now finally return home to the friends confines of Capital Christian High School for a showdown with the conference-leading CD Aguiluchos USA. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 13.