With a roster full of missing stars, Davis entered their 2020 NPSL season opener with more questions than answers.
Adding to the list of concerns was the Lion’s opponent, arch-rival Sacramento Gold, an away fixture Davis has yet to win.
The new look Lion’s didn’t seem affected by the circumstances. A hot start to the match saw the defending conference champions hunting around the Sacramento goal. Kennedy Chongo was dangerous running in behind Sacramento’s defense while Noah Wilson was finding spaces in the defense to play his patented diagonal passes.
Midway through the first half the game began to settle and the Gold found their rhythm.
Building off of former Aggie and Sacramento Republic member Matt Wiesenfarth, chances starting to come for the hosts alongside a dominant spell of possession.
While at times Davis bent, they did not break.
Ty Shikashio played an outstanding first half while JP Herrera made key defensive stops to deny the home side clear chances. With the first half coming to an end at 0-0, the Lion’s were confident a goal would come.
“We knew the counter attack was going to be how we created chances”, said FC Davis captain Noah Wilson. “Patience and execution was going to be key to us finding the net.”
Starting the second half, it didn’t go according to plan. Sacramento dominated play and it seemed it was going to be when, not if the hosts scored.
However, once again the Lion’s bent, but did not break.
Net-minder Zack price came up with key saves while central defenders Jorge Negrete and Garrett Edwards heroically defended the Davis goal. After the Gold hit the woodwork twice, the Lion’s still saw 0-0 on the scoreboard.
After Evan Alvarez was found streaking down the left hand side, the Lion’s struck.
“I had no idea it went in”, said FC Davis goal scorer Evan Alvarez. “It was a cross the goalie lost sight of and wound up in the back of the net. I thought our forward got a touch, but it just went right past the keeper.”
While the Lion’s rejoiced, it would soon turn to frustration.
Sacramento immediately scored after the restart due to a mental lapse from the visitors. A cross into the box from former youth national team player and UCLA/San Diego State product DJ Villegas found a streaking Gold player that was slammed into the back of the net.
With the score knotted at 1-1, the game was up for grabs.
Then with 15 minutes left, the tide turned for the Lion’s.
Substitutes Thomas Arnstein, Cyrus Ghaffari and Peyton Montiel injected life into the squad that dominated the final stretch of the game.
Kennedy Chongo sprang into action and had three chances that just missed wide of the net while Cyrus Ghaffari had a deflected shot go off the crossbar.
The Lion’s continued to pressure the goal off corner kicks and direct play, yet when the final whistle blew it ended in a 1-1 draw.
“An honest result,” said FC Davis head coach Mark Torguson. “They had a good run in the middle of the game, we got unlucky not to put one away at the end. With the situation we were presented with, I think we can be proud of this result, especially since this was the only fixture we dropped last season.”
The Lion’s will continue their road trip with a visit to Academica SC next Saturday night. Last time the two teams met, Academica knocked Davis out of the NPSL National Playoffs in a stunner at Playfields.
The Lions will have one more away fixture in Napa before a huge week in late March where the Lions will play in the US Open Cup against Olympic Club on March 25th followed by their home opener against El Farolito at Playfields on Saturday, March 28th.