By Thomas Viola NAPA, CA — It was the second consecutive thrilling finish at Memorial Stadium in Napa on Saturday, but this time Napa fans went home disappointed, as the Sacramento Gold tied Napa Valley 1839 FC 2-2 after Roberto Mendoza scored a 94th minute equalizer on the final kick of the game.
Just two weeks prior, in Napa’s previous home game, it was the Green Army who went home elated as Napa’s Francisco Mendoza scored a last minute equalizer to tie Sonoma County Sol 2-2.
But this week, just as Napa appeared ready to secure their first win since joining the NPSL this season, R. Mendoza dashed their hopes, salvaging a point for the Gold. After the game, Napa coach Jesus Medina lamented not securing the win, but praised the team’s progress.
“I see the improvement, I see it every week. Today is some evidence that we keep moving on and on and on,” said Medina. “It feels like we lost, just like the game with the Sol, where it felt like we won, but this last minute tie feels like we lost...we did not achieve what we wanted.”
A common theme for Napa has been first half struggles with second half success this season, but Saturday the script was flipped. Napa started out strong as Bryan Marin returned from red card suspension with a bang, scoring a goal in the game’s opening minutes to put Napa up 1-0.
But Napa’s miscues came back quickly, and in the 15th minute goalkeeper Javier Valdez came out to the edge of the box to intercept a Sacramento long ball. Valdez misjudged the ball, which bounced over his head, allowing reigning Mitre NPSL Player of the Week Matt Wiesenfarth to simply round the keeper and tie the game at one apiece.
The scoreline would change once more in the first half though, as Francisco Mendoza, the hero for Napa two weeks prior, deftly brought down a long ball, took a sole touch, and powered a shot from the left side past Sacramento keeper John Connolly to put Napa up 2-1 in the 43rd minute.
Sacramento came out strong in the second half and kept up the pressure for most of the remainder of the game. Fortunately for Napa, Valdez made up for his early mistake in spades. Valdez, making his first home start in green, stood on his head, making save after spectacular save in what really became a performance to remember for the keeper.
Unfortunately for Napa, Valdez did not have much of a chance on Mendoza’s 94th minute equalizer, as the defense collapsed on Wiesenfarth, leaving Mendoza all alone in the center of the box to score.
Napa will have another shot to earn its first win as a franchise at home on May 13 when they host the East Bay FC Stompers, who also reside at the bottom of the Golden Gate Conference. Meanwhile Sacramento will have their work cut out for them when they play host to conference leading and unbeaten CD Aguiluchos USA at Massie Stadium, also on May 13.