HAYWARD, Calif. – It was heartbreak in Hayward once again for Sacramento Gold FC, which saw its first lead of the season slip away thanks to a late goal in a 2-1 loss to the East Bay Stompers Saturday at CSU East Bay’s Pioneer Stadium.
Both teams took a little bit of time to get to know each other. But, after about 20 minutes, the physicality of the game began to come forward and both offenses got more engaged.
The first great chance came in the 25th minute. Clay Silvas played a great through ball to Gabe Padilla, who was one-on-one with Stompers goalkeeper Luis Castro. Padilla tried a quick shot that Castro saved. But, Padilla was able to get the rebound on the left side of the box. His cross was also stopped by Castro, but the ball pinballed around the box until it fell to the feet of Danny Cuevas, who fired a laser to the right side of the goal. Somehow, the ball hit the inside of the post and bounced straight to Castro, denying the Gold an opening goal.
Just two minutes later, the Stompers nearly got on the scoreboard themselves. A great chip left Naji Karaman with a clear shot at goal just outside the six-yard box. Gold goalkeeper Timoteo Arellano stood strong and was able to make the point blank save. The Sacramento defense was able to clear the ball in the aftermath.
Arellano was called upon once again in the 34th minute when the Stompers freed up Khalid Arramdani with a ball up the right side. Just as Arramdani looked to have the edge, Arellano was able to slide down and knock the ball away, knocking out the attack in the process.
In the dying moments of the first half, Sacramento finally got their break thanks to a team effort. After Danny Lomeli poked the ball away from the Stompers, the Gold was on the break. After some nervy moments from Silvas on the right side of the box, he was able to find the towering Steven Wright, who hammered home a header into the right side of the net to put Sacramento up 1-0 after 45 minutes.
Sacramento nearly doubled its lead in the 54th minute thanks to a nifty give-and-go between Silvas and Aroon Molina. However, just when Silvas was about to pull the trigger, Castro snuffed out the attack.
The home squad began to sustain pressure, which eventually produced results. In the 69th minute, Arnuflo Garcia was taken down in the box, resulting in a penalty that Zanin Mahic camly converted to tie the match at 1-1.
Mahic would eventually prove to be the hero in the final minutes of regulation, taking a through ball and firing a quick shot at the top of the box past a diving Arellano to put the Stompers up 2-1.
But the Gold didn’t give up without a fight, and nearly earned a chance at an equalizer in stoppage time. Wright flew up the right side of the box and was taken down from behind. However, there was not a penalty whistle from the official, frustrating Sacramento and sealing the result.
Sacramento will now head back home for a Cinco de Mayo showdown with the rival Sonoma County Sol. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Capital Christian High School.