Napa Sporting SC got a chilly welcome to the United Premier Soccer League on Saturday night, a deficit right out of the gates, but responded in a big way in a 5-1 win over visiting San Leandro FC at American Canyon High School.
San Leandro got on the board by converting a penalty kick in the opening minutes. But Juan Chavez scored the equalizer in the 10th minute on an assist from Samer Elkadi.
Five minutes later, Sebastian Herrera scored the first of his two goals on the first of Emmanuel Cruz’s two assists, and Cruz set up a Cris Martinez goal in the 22nd minute for a 3-1 halftime lead.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Federico Cortes and the seven players rotating in and out on the back line kept San Leandro at bay.
“We got off to a slow start and the opposing team dominated first minutes of the game before we were able to settle down and play our game,” Sporting head coach Bernie Ochoa said. “We had well-rounded team play on both sides of the ball, defensively and offensively.”
Sporting opened the second half more focused than it had the first half, and started to pull away.
Herrera converted a penalty kick in the 58th minute. In the 74th minute, Enrique Hernandez scored on an assist from David Jimenez.
“In our first semi-pro game I have to say I was pleased and very proud of our team and with the result, but not with our play,” Ochoa said. “It’s expected early on, and we hope to improve as season continues. We played well enough to win and it was very important to get off to a positive start in league.
“It’s a long season and we have work ahead of us. We’ll take it week to week and hope to improve for next weekend. We thank our staff, fans and sponsors for their support.”
Napa Sporting takes a four-hour road trip this Saturday to Visalia to take on the Visalia Golden Bears at 7 p.m. at Riverway Sports Park. The Bears, after an eight-hour trip, lost their opener to Southern Oregon Starphire FC, 1-0, on Saturday in Ashland, Ore.