The Napa Valley Soccer Club’s United Under-16 girls scored a golden goal in overtime on Saturday to defeat the Southern Alameda County Northstars and move on to the NorCal State Cup finals.
United scored six minutes into the second half to erase a 1-0 halftime deficit. On a restart from 45 yards out, sweeper Joy Hopkins delivered a short pass to center midfielder Alina Martinez. Martinez one-touched it back to Hopkins, who blasted a long line drive into the upper right-hand corner to tie the game.
United kept the pressure on the Northstars for the rest of the half. Kelsea McIver, Bailey Kiser, Sarah Tracy, Krista Carrillo, Kathryn Johnson and Claudia Torkelson all had or created great chances for United as the game wore on, but stellar saves by the Northstars goalie kept the score tied.
Goalkeeper Marisa Bergin performed to her usual high standard, backed up extremely well by defenders Camille Castro, Korinne Wallace, Amanda Neidlinger and Nico Baila. Midfielders Daisha Paringit, Meghan Perrin and Samantha Schwandt provided valuable support on both the defensive and the offensive ends.
After withstanding a Northstars corner kick at the end of regulation and an early foray into the United end at the beginning of overtime, Napa United put the game away three minutes into the first overtime period. Tracy found Martinez, who one-touched it to center midfielder Rayan Takemoto. After preparing the ball, Takemoto slammed a searing shot past the keeper from 23 yards out to end the game and send the United squad into a jubilant pile-on at midfield.
Trainer and coach Rob Kusel was ecstatic with United’s performance after the game.
“I’m incredibly proud of the team’s execution and attitude today,” he said. “They faced a halftime deficit against a highly talented team and never backed down. Every United player did her part and more to keep us in the game, and in the end, we were able to prevail.”
The championship game against Modesto Ajax Elite will be played today at 1 p.m. at Turlock Sports Complex. Should United win, they will achieve a triple crown: champions of the CCSL Fall League, champions of the NorCal Premier Fall League, and champions of the NorCal State Cup. They will also qualify for the U.S. National Club Championships in Chicago in late July, as well as the Surf Cup in San Diego in August.