PETALUMA, Calif. – It was a dogfight Saturday at Casa Grande High School, with Sacramento Gold FC and the Sonoma County Sol going toe-to-toe all night. Unfortunately for the visitors, it was the home squad that came out on top 2-0.
In a match full of plenty of action – and opportunity – perhaps the first few minutes were the most crucial. Just two minutes into the contest, Gabe Padilla and Matt Wiesenfarth worked the ball through the Sonoma box, eventually setting up Nico Gonzalez with an open look a few yards out. However, Gonzalez sent the ball just wide right.
About a minute later, the Sol’s first chance of the game came when the referee ruled that Javier Grajeda brought down an attacker in the box and signaled for a penalty. John Cortez converted to put the hosts up 1-0 early.
In the 8th minute, Sacramento nearly evened things up with a give-and-go between Padilla and Wiesenfarth. From just to the left of the goal, Padilla fired a low shot that Sol goalkeeper Arturo Ornelas was able to get a foot on and deflect away.
Cortez nearly doubled the score off a corner kick three minutes later. A Gold clearance didn’t go far enough, with the rebound falling right to Cortez’s feet. Cortez fired a wicked shot that would’ve gone in if not for a leaping parry from Sacramento goalkeeper Hector Grajeda.
Despite the Gold controlling a large part of the action, the remaining two dangerous chances of the first half went to the Sol – both nearly identical. In the 23rd minute, Joshua Sanchez was sprung free on a through ball up the middle, but put his shot wide right. Sanchez would not make that same mistake in the 36th minute, slotting the ball home to make it a 2-0 count at halftime.
With Sacramento pushing to find the back of the net, Sonoma had several chances to add to the lead as the second half went on. From a long shot in the 53rd minute to a close free kick and a rebound off the post, the Sol hit back on the counter attack. Each time, Hector Grajeda was able to stand strong, particularly when Michel Arroyo broke free for a one-on-one in the 70th minute. Grajeda rose high to snatch the chip attempt from the air, keeping Sacramento in it.
Even with Grajeda’s best efforts, Sacramento’s offense simply could not find the back of the net. Padilla came close to breaking through in the waning minutes, but his close shot was stopped by Ornelas, sealing the Gold’s first loss of the 2019 campaign.
Sacramento Gold FC will be back on the road next weekend, as they face San Ramon FC for the first time. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Saturday, April 13 at Dougherty Valley High School.