NorCal Game of the Week March 10th: Napa Valley Tops NPSL Newcomers Academica in the League’s Opening Game
Napa Valley 1839 topped NPSL newcomers, Academica SC, by a score of 3-0 in their home opener at Justin Sienna High School in Napa, California. The 3-0 score might be deceiving as the Man of the Match was the Napa Valley goal keeper Javier Valdez. He came up with multiple big saves in the first half to keep his side in the match, and then multiple more good saves in the 2nd half to keep his side ahead.
The match started off slowly with neither side really making their mark on the match early. Napa Valley controlled the first 15 minutes of the game. They had the best early chance of the match when captain Victor Calderon saw his shot sail over the bar.
The remainder of the first half was a balanced affair with neither side dominating for long stretches of the match. The first shot on goal came in the 30th minute when Academica’s Alex Bettencourt’s shot made for a simple first save of the night for Javier Valdez of Napa.
The best chance of the first half went to Academica when they forced Valdez into a huge double save before hitting the post, all in the same sequence just before the intermission. Valdez first stopped Arnaldo Gutierez before saving the rebound effort that fell to Cody Golbad. The final chance of the sequence went to Jorge Carmona who hit the bar as the first half ended scoreless.
Academica came out of the half on the front foot having numerous chances to take the lead in the first half. The best early chance of the 2nd half came to Cody Golbad who had nothing more to do than tap in Alex Bettencourts cross to give his side the lead, but he was unable to do so.
In the next 5 minutes, Napa took back some control as Academica defender Roberto Lopez-Ellis was lucky to see only yellow when he pulled back the Napa attacker as the final defender. Academica defender Arnaldo Guitierrez was forced to clear the ball off the line to keep the match level just moments later, but at this point the match had turned in Napa’s favor.
The dead lock was finally broken by 1839 substitute Bryan Marin in the 60th minute with a stunning strike from long distance to give the home side the 1-0 lead. Academica had a chance to respond nearly direct from the kick off, but once again, Javier Valdez came up with another huge save on Cody Golbad’s effort.
With Acadmeica unable to capatlize on an equalizer, Napa went on to double their lead in the 65th minute when captain Vicor Calderon found Osvaldo Velázquez-Vazquez sliding in at the back post to make it 2-0.
Academica had a few more big chances to get back into the match, but Napa Valley keeper Valdez was intent on keeping his clean sheet by coming up with multiple huge one on one saves. Napa Valley tacked on a 3rd goal by Francisco Gonzales in stoppage time to extend the lead.
In what was a cagey hard tackling League-wide opening match, Napa Valley was able to already equal their number of wins from their inaugural season in 2017.