On a beautiful evening for soccer, a good crowd turned out at Justin-Siena High School’s Dodd Stadium, looking to see Napa Valley 1839 FC try and end a two-game losing streak. But the visiting East Bay Stompers dominated from the start and came away with a 4-2 win in National Premier Soccer League action.
Head coach Jesus Medina was not pleased with the effort from his 1839 team (2-3-1) early in the game.
“There’s no way we cannot be disappointed with this result. It was similar to what happened last week,” he said of a 2-0 loss at FC Davis. “The other team gets a couple of good pushes and they score. We weren’t alert, we weren’t paying attention and that’s what happens. It’s taking too long for us to get in our rhythm. The other team comes in strong and we’re asleep, and that’s been killing us.”
Michael Tieku scored twice for the Stompers (1-1-3) in the first 15 minutes of the game.
The first goal came on a left-footed drive off a corner kick that beat Javier Valdez-Raya, and the second one from a scramble in front of the 1839 goal where Valdez-Raya had no chance.
In the latter part of the first half, 1839 showed more urgency and finally started pressing the Stompers with several promising attacks. The home team was eventually rewarded when Max Alvarez sent a left-footed rocket into the net from 20 yards out to cut the East Bay lead to 2-1.
Valdez-Raya made several strong saves, including one in the final seconds of the first half, to keep 1839 in the game.
Napa Valley came out strong in the second half and pressed the attack, looking for a tying goal. But a third goal by the Stompers seemed to take the wind out of the home team’s sails. On a direct kick from 35 yards out, East Bay sent a high shot toward the 1839 goal that had Valdez-Raya backpedaling and finally leaping to prevent the ball from going over his head and into the goal. He prevented the ball from going in but couldn’t control it and it fell in front of him, where the Stompers unmarked forward, Gustavo Rico tapped it in.
Medina was not happy with the lapse in attention by his defense on the play.
“That third goal for them, where they scored on a second chance off a 35-yard direct kick, that shouldn’t happen,” the coach said. “Our defenders just assumed Javi would make the save, even though it was difficult, and didn’t mark their forwards coming in for the second ball.”
East Bay added a fourth goal late in the half when substitute Nigus Soloman got loose in front of the 1839 goal and beat Valdez-Raya with a low shot.
Napa Valley’s Juan Acosta got one back for the home team shortly before the final whistle, but it was too little and far too late.
There were several yellow cards in the game. Late in the second half, Napa Valley’s Jorge Lualua received his second yellow card for an automatic red card. The ejection means he will be unavailable for 1839 next week.
“Four goals is too many to give away for the way we play,” said Medina. “Our scoring statistics are much better than theirs. They only had three points coming into the game, but they collected three points from us tonight. Their roster is entirely new this year, nothing similar to last year. Their players are more technical and much better this year.”
Napa Valley 1839 FC will try to get back on the winning track next Saturday evening when it travels to face the winless Sonoma County Sol FC in a 7 p.m. game at Petaluma’s Casa Grande High School.