For the second time this week, a resilient Republic FC side stormed back from an early goal down to advance in the 2019 USL Championship playoffs after defeating regional rivals Reno 1868 FC in a Quarterfinal showdown on Saturday night, 3-1.
Simon Elliott’s men fell behind within the first five minutes of the match but the boys in Old Glory Red responded with three of their own, two in the final 20 minutes of play, to upset second-seeded 1868 FC at Greater Nevada Field.
Reno took a 1-0 lead when a back-pass to goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth was intercepted by Corey Hertzog. Reno’s leading goalscorer rolled his shot into an empty net to gift the hosts an early advantage.
But the boys in Old Glory Red bounced back moments later when forward Cameron Iwasa fought off two defenders at the halfway line before barreling upfield with possession. The Sacramento native picked out defender Juan Barahona on the left side of the box who rifled a cross towards the penalty spot that found a surging Sam Werner. The winger steered his volley towards goal and beat the Reno goalkeeper Cody Mizell to level the score at one all.
Just before the half, the hosts nearly snatched the lead off of a deflected shot that goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth was quick to pounce on. Moments later, Shuttleworth was called into action again as the Republic FC goalkeeper brushed aside a header from close range.
For the second straight game, Sacramento battled back from an early deficit and snatched the lead late in the second half when Iwasa showed his composure in front of net to put his side on top. Five minutes after subbing into the match, Villyan Bijev made an immediate impact when he flicked a perfectly weighted ball into the path of the club’s all-time leading goalscorer who rolled his shot by Mizell to put SRFC in front, 2-1.
Five minutes later, Sacramento doubled its lead through Thomas Enevoldsen. Iwasa chipped a dangerous ball into the box that Dariusz Formella got a touch to before the Danish striker slammed the loose ball into the back of the net to ensure Republic FC was headed to the Western Conference Semifinals.
The seventh-seeded boys in Old Glory Red will continue their quest for USL Championship Cup glory next weekend against the winner of Saturday night’s Fresno-El Paso match.
-Sacramento Republic FC