East Bay FC's unprecedented 2016 season came to a sudden end Saturday night with a 3-1 loss against Sonoma County in the first round of the NPSL West Region playoffs.
Taylor Varnadore dominated the second half for Sonoma, scoring two goals and assisting on a third to help the Sol overcome a 1-0 halftime deficit at Nevers Field on the campus of Santa Rosa High School.
In the 71st minute, Varnadore collected a cross from Marco Barragan in front of East Bay FC's net and finished to tie the score 1-1. Just four minutes later, the tall forward put away a penalty kick to give Sonoma a 2-1 lead.
The penalty kick came after Sol midfielder Noah Paravicini drew a foul at the edge of the 18-yard box, a call that drew vigorous protests from the Stompers side. East Bay goalkeeper Jose Majano guessed right on the direction of the kick, but the shot was just out of his reach.
And in the 85th minute, Varnadore drove in toward the penalty area from the left corner and made a sliding pass to teammate Nico Spann, who finished to give Sonoma a 3-1 lead and put the game out of reach for East Bay FC.
The Stompers spent most of the first half patiently controlling possession. They took a 1-0 lead into halftime thanks to midfielder Arturo Gomez, who collected a pass from teammate Julian Amaya, drove the ball into the offensive third, eluded a defender and delivered a strike past two defenders and Sonoma keeper Sean Taufer in the 45th minute.
Fueled in part by a pair of wins and a tie against Sonoma County, East Bay FC finished the regular season with a 6-4-4 record — easily the best in the team's NPSL tenure — to finish third in the Golden Gate Conference and earn the No. 4 seed in the West Region playoffs. With the win, Sol advances to the second round of the West Region playoffs and earns a visit from North County Battalion of San Diego.