The East Bay FC Stompers reached the NPSL playoffs for the first time in club history following a must-win game on the final day of the regular season. The Stompers took an early lead on the road to the Sacramento Gold and never looked back, winning a historic game for the club 4-2 on Saturday night.
The Stompers scored first in the ninth minute of play, when playmaker Eder Guzman put in a wonderful in-swinging cross to the back post that forward Victor Parra calmly finished to give the Stompers the early lead.
This goal put the Gold in a position where they now had to score, as they needed at least a draw to reach the playoffs. The Stompers would continue to create chances, but the remainder of the first half was dominated by the Gold.
The Gold created chances down the wing and put some great crosses into the box that found no one on the other end. As well, they sent multiple set-piece headers over the bar. The half would finish 1-0 in favor of East Bay, but the balance of play was turning in Sacramento’s favor.
The second half started faster than the first as Stompers midfielder Julian Amaya hit Parra over the top to ignite a three-on-one counterattack in the 51st minute of play. Parra, named Man of the Match, took the chance himself and finished it off for his second goal of the night.
The Gold, now seeing their playoff hopes beginning to crumble, began to give the ball away cheaply. Just 3 minutes after taking a two-goal lead, the Stompers made it three in the 54th minute when midfielder Arturo Gomez stole the ball just outside the box and rounded the keeper to send the Stompers on their way to the playoffs.
Sacramento Gold, a former NPSL champion, would not go down without a fight. As the Stompers shifted to more defensive personnel and tactics, the Gold began to find some chances. The Gold got one back in the 73rd minute when Cylus Sandoval passed to Jason Jones for the goal.
The Gold found more chances, but could not get lucky. Late in the game, East Bay substitute Prince Bere played a perfect ball to fellow substitute Lewis Saxelby for the Stompers' fourth goal of the game, all but sealing the game in the 85th minute.
The Gold would get one goal back in the waning moments of the game when Keenan Armburst volleyed the ball home from outside the box. But the comeback ended there as the game finished 4-2 in favor of the Stompers.
With this win, the Stompers jumped ahead of the Gold and into third place in the Golden Gate Conference standings. The Stompers earned the No. 4 seed in their half of the West Region playoffs. They will travel to face top seed Sonoma County Sol on Saturday July 9.