Heartbreak In Davis As Academica Scores Three Goals In Final 18 Minutes To Sink Lions
It was a picture perfect evening Saturday night.
The Davis soccer community showed up in force to watch the first ever playoff game in FC Davis history.
All signs pointed to a stage set for the Lions to continue their season long success and make a deep run in the 2019 NPSL National Playoffs.
Not only was Davis fully healthy for the first time in months, the Lions were playing at home where the team was undefeated during the entire 2019 campaign.
Shortly after the opening whistle sounded, it appeared the magical season would continue.
Inside of ten minutes, Noah Wilson grabbed a pass from Andisheh Bagheri and slotted the ball home to make it 1-0 Davis. Scoring first was a trademark for the Lions, who hit the net first in all but two games this season.
After the goal, both teams had chances, but it was Davis dominating the run of play. Seeing the majority of the ball in the first half, the home side was confident at the halfway mark.
All year long a lead and momentum spelled doom for teams, as Davis would bury opponents in the second half with a wave of goals.
When the second half started, it appeared history would repeate itself.
The Lions were pressuring the Academica SC goal constantly the first 15 minutes of play.
At the ‘50 mark, Miguel Acevedo rounded the goalkeeper only to have his shot cleared off the line.
Shortly after it was Kennedy Chongo with a chance that skipped over the bar off a cross.
More chances came for Davis but ended with the same result, everywhere but in the goal.
An uneasy feeling started to settle in with a pattern of play that closely resembled the Lions only loss of the regular season against the Sacramento Gold.
In that match Davis had numerous opportunities go to waste only to see Sacramento tie the game and win in late.
That feeling was compounded when Evan Barrett, one of the dominant players in the Lions three-headed attack, went down with an injury.
The only other time Barrett left the field hurt?
The loss to Sacramento Gold.
Fear would turn into reality, when at the ‘72 mark, Academica found the back of the net off a missed Davis clearance.
Shortly after, Academica hit the net again off a scramble in front of the net.
It was a frantic finish, as Davis created two quality scoring opportunities.
The best chance came about when Miguel Acevedo nearly netted an equalizer in the '90 minute off a header that clanked off the cross bar and out of play. It marked the fourth time Davis hit the post.
After pushing everyone forward for a set-piece, Academica caught the Lions out and scored their third goal in eighteen minutes to seal the match.
It was a heartbreaking result for Davis, who put together one of the best regular seasons in the country.
With the top seed from Southern California also losing to the third seed, the Lions would have hosted every game until the National Semi-Finals, where they had potential to host as well.
While the season ended unexpectedly, it was nothing short of an amazing run that saw Davis put their mark on the national stage.
The Lions will be back with a chip on their shoulder next season. With much of the team returning, the expectations will be sky high for the men in black and gold.