06/19/2016 11:30 AM
The third and final leg of the 2016 season series between the East Bay FC Stompers and CD Aguiluchos USA went the way of the hosts as Aguiluchos posted a 2-0 victory Saturday night at Raimondi Park in Oakland.
The win by the Aguiluchos ended a seven-game unbeaten streak by the Stompers, dating back to May 8. East Bay FC won three of those games while drawing four to climb back into playoff contention after its season-opening win was followed by three straight losses.
This new rivalry began this season in the NPSL Golden Gate Conference as the former San Francisco Stompers moved to the East Bay city of Hayward to meet their new Alameda County rivals from Oakland.
The Aguiluchos took the first leg of this season's Alameda County Derby on April 9, when they won 3-1 on their home field. The second leg was hosted by the Stompers on May 13 and played to a 1-1 draw. This left the final leg of the Derby to determine the season series championship. The Stompers needed a win by 2 goals or more to take the season series, while the Aguiluchos needed just a draw to take bragging rights for the season.
An early mistake at the back by the Stompers led to a Simon Rawnsley rebound goal to give Aguiluchos an early 1-0 lead. It was the 18th goal of the season for Rawnsley, who is looking to defend his NPSL Golden Boot from 2015.
The Stompers built their way back into the game and began to dominate the game through possession, but were not able to create any major scoring threats, and the half finished 1-0. The trend continued in the second half — East Bay's dominance in possession did not lead to many high-quality chances, and the Aguiluchos were able to create some decent chances of their own on counterattacks.
Another mistake at the back for the Stompers came off an Aguiluchos corner kick, which wasn't properly cleared. Again, Simon Rawnsley buried the loose ball for his second of the game and 19th of the season. This goal came in the 80th minute, all but sealing the game and the season derby for the Aguiluchos.
The Aguiluchos now have just one game remaining as they look to secure the regular-season Golden Gate Conference title. They currently have 24 points, four points clear of Sonoma County Sol at the top of the table, but the Sol have two games in hand. They will meet each other on the final weekend of the season to most likely determine who gets the top seed in the NPSL West Region playoffs.
The Stompers have 16 points with two games remaining. They will most likely have to win their final two games of the season to make it into the last playoff spot. They host Sonoma next weekend before traveling to face Sacramento Gold FC on the final weekend of the season. The match against the Gold has the potential to determine who gets into the last remaining Golden Gate Conference playoff spot.
The rivalry in Alameda County continues to grow. If the Aguiluchos and Stompers somehow meet in the playoffs, it will sure to be one of the most exciting games of the Golden Gate Conference season, if not the entire NPSL.