The elusive first win in Napa Valley 1839 FC franchise history will need to wait for another week, with two late goals propelling the East Bay FC Stompers past the home squad 2-1 at Memorial Stadium on Saturday evening.
The 1839’s continue to show promise, but mistakes continue to finish off the first-year team. Napa Valley 1839 FC falls to the bottom of the National Premier Soccer League’s Golden Gate Conference standings with the loss and the Stompers leapfrogged the young Napa squad for fourth place.
“They (East Bay FC Stompers) were very effective with their opportunities and I concede that my team today just didn’t have a good game,” head coach Jesus Medina said. “Sometimes it just doesn’t happen.”
Saturday evening was a golden opportunity for the 1839’s, with the Stompers’ only other point this season coming during the two squads’ first meeting in a 3-3 tie in San Lorenzo.
East Bay FC started its fourth goalkeeper of the year, with the six-year-old franchise bringing back last season’s starting goalie, Marcus Rojas back into the action.
Napa Valley 1839 FC attacked Rojas all evening with numerous shots, with the 23-year-old goalkeeper finishing with seven saves for the game.
The 1839’s had many chances in the first half, with Napa outshooting the Stompers by a margin of 6-4, with both squads getting two shots on frame.
A major issue for Napa Valley 1839 FC was running offside, with the 1839’s racking up eight off-sides during the contest.
“The game didn’t work today,” Medina said. “It definitely didn’t work.”
Napa Valley 1839 FC came out of the break strong, as the hosts broke the scoreless tie with Fardeen Shaiwany passing a through ball to Gabriel Borges, who scored the goal in the 47th minute.
The 1839’s played their best during the first 10 minutes after halftime, with the team feeding off the energy of the large crowd.
“During the first 10 minutes of the second half, I thought we had them under control,” Medina said. “After they scored their goal, we just kind of collapsed.”
The momentum in the game quickly turned toward the visitors for the remainder of the second half.
East Bay FC picked up the equalizer in the 64th minute. Midfielder Zanin Mahic centered a ball into the middle of the 1839’s box and Greivin Pacheco smashed the ball into the top right corner of the goal past Napa Valley’s goalkeeper, Javier Valdez-Raya.
Pacheco is a recent signing for the Stompers, as the 31-year-old striker just finished up playing for the Costa Rica National Beach Soccer team.
“They (Stompers) played a conservative style of play, but they were shaky at the same time,” Medina said. “We just gave so many goals away.”
Just like the previous game against the Sacramento Gold, star 15-year old Eduardo Blancas entered the game for the final 15 minutes of the game. The USA U16 National Team member continues to be a fan favorite with the Napa supporters.
“It feels really good to see everyone cheer for me,” Blancas said. “It makes me feel like I am at home playing here.”
Whenever Blancas would maneuver the ball, even on basic plays, the home crowd would ooh and aah with each passing touch and there was a noticeable different energy going around Memorial Stadium when Blancas was on the field.
“Hearing the crowd motivates me, like when people are saying my name from the stands,” Blancas said. “I want to do the best for everyone that supports me.”
East Bay FC Stompers took the lead for good in the 76th minute, with Mahic getting a goal of his own. On a quick counter attack, Mahic dribbled the ball from around the halfway line past an 1839’s defender and buried a shot into the right corner from the left side of the box.
The contest turned chippy in the final 12 minutes, with Napa Valley 1839 FC substitute Saiaz Saenz being sent off in the 78th minute with a red card. Each side had flare-ups for the remainder of the game, but no other players were sent off.
Napa Valley 1839 FC will be off next week, before traveling to Casa Grande High School in Petaluma to take on the Sonoma County Sol on May 27. The Sol is currently in third place in the Golden Gate Conference with eight points, just one point behind the Sacramento Gold FC.
“We just need to keep our heads up and keep working harder for that first win,” Blancas said. “Everyone loses games. We just need to keep getting better.”