SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento Gold FC took the first step towards rebounding from a disappointing 2018 season, kicking off the 2019 NPSL season with a close 1-0 win over defending Golden Gate Conference champs El Farolito Saturday at Capital Christian High School.
Michael Mazzoni scored the game’s lone goal, while he and the rest of the Gold defense withstood a late Farolito surge to secure the win.
The action picked up shortly after the 20-minute mark. That’s when Farolito snuck by the Gold defense and goalkeeper Hector Grajeda down the right side. However, Grajeda managed to backtrack and halt any further threat, getting an arm on multiple shots before covering up the ball.
Then, the Gold turned up the heat. First, Matt Wiesenfarth got free up the middle, only failing to score thanks to a save by Farolito goalkeeper Roberto Llamas. A couple of minutes later, Danny Cuevas sent a free kick to the right post, where Llamas was able to deflect it out for a corner kick.
Shortly after, Cuevas nearly opened the scoring with a run down the left side, with two shots deflected away for a corner. After a lengthy injury stoppage, the ensuing kick was met by the rising head of Chris Christian, whose attempt dinged off the left post and somehow didn’t go over the line before Farolito cleared it.
Though it appeared the half would end scoreless, Sacramento finally struck in the 45th minute. Nico Gonzalez sent a long cross to Mazzoni, who was making a run down the left side. Mazzoni calmly collected the ball and fired a low shot than snuck by Llamas, sending the Gold into the locker room with a 1-0 halftime lead.
Throughout the second half, Farolito sought the tying goal, applying more and more pressure as time wound down. Each time, Sacramento’s defense was up to the task, particularly Grajeda, who made a fantastic leaping save to deny Farolito a goal in the 75th minute.
The Gold would get chances to add to their lead, the closest coming in the 69th minute with a nice give-and-go between Wiesenfarth and Gabe Padilla. Then in the 77th minute, Alexis Dionosio took advantage of a Farolito misplay to get a quick shot off on goal. Both times, Llamas was able to knock the ball away. Nevertheless, Sacramento would hang on to pick up the win.
Sacramento Gold FC will head on the road for the first time in 2019, as they face Academia Turlock. Kickoff is set for Saturday, March 23 at Academica Field.