The East Bay FC Stompers managed to steal a point back late against a 10-man Napa Valley 1839 FC squad on Saturday night when Stompers captain Jesse Kehoe found the head of Michael Molinari on a free kick. Molinari’s header made it 1-1 in the 88th minute, earning the Stompers a late point, and denying Napa its first NPSL win.
The game was deadlocked at 0-0 for much of the contest, until Napa’s Bryan Marin managed to put a rebound in the back of the net to give Napa the lead, and for the next several minutes it appeared the visitors might finally earn their first win since joining the NPSL this season, until Molinari’s goal leveled things as the game came to a close.
For both teams, the result felt disappointing.
“We should have come out with all three points,” said Stompers Head Coach Martin Sierra. “We missed a good six or seven one-on-one’s, you put two of those in and we come out a winner.”
The Stompers looked to be in better position to score for most of the contest, but shot after shot went wide or hit off the post for East Bay, while Napa goalkeeper Javier Valdez put in an incredible performance, turning away several Stompers shots that threatened his goal.
It was a gutsy performance for Napa, who was forced to play a man down for the entire second half after defender Adrian Maldonado saw his second yellow card in the 43rd minute after a poor challenge on Stompers forward Jorge Butron. Maldonado received his first yellow in the fourth minute after spiking a Stompers throw in out of frustration.
Despite earning a point on the road, Napa Head Coach Jesus Medina lamented the team’s inability to finish out the game with a victory.
“Really [the feeling] is more frustration,” said Medina. “The team played fantastic, but there is always a sense of losing when you tie in the 88th minute.”
The performance was one of Napa’s best on the season, and showed the team’s resiliency, bouncing back from last week’s 4-0 loss to the Sacramento Gold.
Napa Valley 1839 FC finishes out their home schedule Saturday when they play host to CD Aguiluchos USA, who have already clinched the Golden Gate Conference’s top playoff seed thanks to their unbeaten record.
Meanwhile East Bay now looks ahead to two must-win matches, starting with their home finale against the Sonoma County Sol on Saturday at Pioneer Stadium. A victory there would set up a battle with the Sacramento Gold the following week for the second and final Golden Gate playoff spot.