Wine Country Derby to Decide Sol’s Playoff Fate

The final Wine Country Derby of the year between the Sonoma County Sol and Napa Valley 1839 FC always had the makings of a great match. It is the lone remaining game in the NPSL Golden Gate Conference and will be the deciding game for the 2nd playoff spot in the Conference. While Napa Valley can’t make the playoffs in their inaugural season, they can prevent their rivals from reaching the playoffs for the 6th consecutive season.

Just two weeks ago, the Sonoma County Sol sat 6 points back of Sacramento Gold with three games to play. In the last two weeks, the Sol picked up 6 points from basically must win games, while the Gold picked up just 1 point. Diego Lopez lead the way for the Sol against the East Bay Stompers with a multiple goal game in a 4-0 win that eliminated the Stompers from playoff contention. Then on the following Saturday, the Gold were held scoreless by the Stompers in a game that ended 0-0. This meant Sonoma needed 4 points in their final two matches to reach the playoffs. They would pick up the first 3 of those points the next day when they beat Conference leaders, CD Aguliuchos, 4-1. Omar Nuno led the win with a multiple goal game and Nicholas Lombardi added a spectacular goal from at least 35 yards out.

Napa Is coming off of their home finale two weeks ago against Aguiluchos when they picked up the Club’s historic first-ever win. The only goal in that game came from one of the team’s top players, Francisco Mendoza. Mendoza was also the player that scored the epic 90th minute equalizer in the inaugural Wine Country Derby. In that match, Napa Valley salvaged a come-from-behind draw after going down a man. The opening goal of that game came from one of the Sol’s leaders, Taylor Varnadore, who picked up an injury later in that game and hasn’t played since. The 2nd goal came from one of the Sol’s top defenders, Justin Ferreira, from just inside the halfway line. Napa responded with a goal from Bryan Marin, the team’s leading scorer, to start the 2nd half. Marin would later be red carded late in the match to leave his team down a man with not much time to play. This was all before Mendoza tied the game at two all with an excellent strike. The 2nd Derby wasn’t as drama filled and saw just a single goal from either side in the first half, one from Napa Valley’s Gabriel Borges and one from Sonoma Sol’s Tyler Hurst.

While at this point there isn’t a playoff chance for Napa Valley 1839 FC in their inaugural season, there is a chance to play spoiler to their new rivals, as well as a chance to be the first of the two sides to win a match in the Derby. As for the defending NPSL West Region champions and national runners up, Sonoma County only needs to pick up a minimum of a point in this match. A repeat of their first two results against Napa would be good enough to see them into the NPSL playoffs over the Sacramento Gold. The Gold have ended their season on 17 points already, with a plus 7 goal-differential. The Sol currently has a plus 7 goal-differential and has 16 points before playing this Wine Country Derby. As well, Sonoma County hold the season head-to-head record with Sacramento, having won the opening game of the season over the Gold 3-1, before drawing the next two games of the three in the series.

This match will take place for a 2nd consecutive time at Sonoma’s new home field, Casa Grande High School, in Petaluma, California.

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