Behind goals from Eric Larson and Tyler Hurst, the Sonoma County Sol dispatched the Sacramento Gold 2-1 Saturday night at Rancho Cotate High School in Rohnert Park, Calif. to move one step closer to qualifying for the 101st edition of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
The win puts the Sol into the semifinals of the 2014 Golden Gate Conference US Open Cup Qualifying Tournament.
“It wasn’t our most beautiful game, but it was our first game [of the season], so we feel like we’re going to get better with our style of play and get back to the way we want to play the game,” said third-year Sol head coach Vinnie Cortezzo. “That being said, it was a great result for us. Last year, Sacramento knocked us out in the early rounds of Open Cup qualifying so it was nice to get a little revenge.”
Sonoma got off to a fast start in the match when some prolonged possession through Nico Spann on the right wing. Spann crossed it to Hurst who took a heavy touch past a defender then knocked the ball across the mouth of the goal to Eric Larson who smashed the ball into the net from eight yards out in the 14th minute.
Sacramento, who qualified for last year’s Open Cup, quickly responded when a 35-yard set piece was served into no man’s land and headed home by Jose Martinez in the 22nd minute.
Shortly after the break, Hurst scored what would prove to be the game-winner. In the 47th minute, Larson received the ball at the top of the Sacramento box, dribbled in, and found Hurst who hit a slow-roller off the inside of the far post and into the back of the net.
The Sol, who were the 2013 NPSL runners-up, dominated the rest of the game, coming close on a few more occasions, but further goals were not needed.
“I thought we could have scored a couple more,” Cortezzo said. “We had some really great opportunities.”
The Sol will now change their focus to Real San Jose who they will host Saturday at 7 p.m. also at Rancho Cotate High School.
“There tends to be quite a bit of change from year-to-year and I haven’t seen [San Jose] so I don’t know exactly what to expect,” Cortezzo said. “We’re expecting a good game and a tough team and a very physical game. That has always been the case with San Jose.”
The Sol last qualified for the US Open Cup proper in 2010 where they were beaten in the first round of the then USSF Division 2 Professional League Portland Timbers.
Their best runs of the four times that they have qualified were in 2006 when they made it to the second round before losing 1-0 to the USL First Division Charleston Battery in Charleston and in 2009 when they made it to the second round before losing to the Portland Timbers 3-0, who were that year playing in the USL First Division, in Santa Rosa. The Sol and the Brooklyn Italians remain the only clubs from the NPSL who have qualified for the Open Cup four times since the league launched in 2005.
2014 US Open Cup qualifying (NPSL)
GOLDEN GATE CONFERENCE
Sacramento Gold 1:2 Sonoma County Sol
Semifinals (Mar. 1)
Real San Jose at Sonoma County Sol
Rancho Cotate HS; Rohnert Park, Calif. – 7 p.m. PT
CD Aguiluchos USA at San Francisco Stompers
Lowell High School; San Francisco, Calif. – 3 p.m. PT
Final (Mar. 8 or 9 – Win & You’re In)
First Round (Mar. 1)
FC Force at Temecula FC
Great Oak HS; Temecula, Calif. – 8:30 p.m. PT
Santa Clarita Storm at Del Ray City
Malibu HS; Malibu, Calif. – 3 p.m. PT
Semifinals (Mar. 9)
FC Force/Temecula FC at San Diego Flash
Mira Mesa HS; San Diego, Calif. – 6:30 p.m. PT
SC Storm/Del Ray City at FC Hasental
Thousand Oaks HS; Thousand Oaks, Calif. – 7 p.m. PT
Final (Mar. 15 – Win & You’re In)
NOTE: The 2014 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup format has not been officially announced by the US Soccer Federation yet, so this tournament is operating under the assumption that the number of teams awarded to the NPSL will not change from 2013.