Head Coach Mark Briggs elected to remain with the starting lineup from last weeks match with Los Dos, but it was quickly evident that this would be a very different game. From the start the Monarchs struggled to move the ball through midfield into the offensive side of the field. The Republic seemed the more determined and composed of the two sides in executing a good high press for most of the first half.
Coach Briggs was all over the official from nearly the initial whistle and seemed much more animated that usual as he team struggled to string several passes together and move out of their own half. Any penetration during the first half was due sole to the footwork of Sebastian Velasquez and the efforts of Max Lachowecki and Danny Cruz along the sidelines.
While both team had chances, none were particularly good and both sides left the pitch at halftime without much to show for their offensive efforts. The demeanor of both coaches upon leaving the pitch and then returning made it clear that the halftime discussions had been lively and spirited.
Sacramento immediately went back to the high pressure at the start of the second half and were quickly rewarded in the 49th minute when Wilson Kneeshaw manged to get around Emilio Orozco who was attempted to usher a ball out across the end line. Kneeshaw managed to get a pass back to an onrushing Luis Espino who was unmarked in the center of the box as both James Moberg and Taylor Peay had been pulled deep and to one side by the penetration.
With the lead Sacramento began to slow down play and it wasn’t until the arrival of Karsten Hanlin and Daniel Haber off the bench in the middle of the second half that the motion and passing of the Monarchs began to take shape. Gradually the quality of motion and possession began to improve and the monarch’s began to find some level of possession in their offensive half.
Just as it seemed that the Monarchs might not be able to find a goal to tie the game, James Moberg made a nice cross into the box that Nick Besler headed down to Max Lachowecki. Lachowecki was taken down by Augustin Cazarez in the box and the the referee pointed to the sport. Chandler Hoffman calmly beat Evan Newton with the subsequent penalty kick and the game went into extra time.
Sacramento continued to look the sharper of the two teams through the two 15 minutes halves of extra time, but several great saves by Connor Sparrow keep the match level and the team moved into a penalty shootout.
The Monarchs went first and Danny Cruz hit his attempt far over the goal and 25 to 30 rows up into the stands for an initial miss. Hayden Partain, one of the three forwards substituted into the match took the first attempt for the Republic and converted to give them a 1-0 lead.
Sebastian Velasquez took the second attempt for the Monarchs and placed his shot low and right into the middle of Evan Newton who deflected it away. James Kiffe took the second for Sacramento and also converted to give them a 2-0 lead.
Daniel Haber went third for the Monarchs and converted on a high shot in the middle of the goal. Jeremy Hall also converted the third attempt for the Republic to keep pace and make it 3-1.
Chandler Hoffman came forward for the fourth attempt which he needed to convert to keep the Monarchs alive. He put the shot to the other side of the goal from his first attempt back in regular time, but this time Newton guessed correctly to end the match and send Sacramento through to the Western Conference Semi-Finals,
While the referee definitely did nothing to distinguish himself throughout the match, when all was said and done it was simply the more composed and harder working side that won on the night.
49’ – SAC – Luis Espino (Wilson Kneeshaw)
86’ – SLC – Chandler Hoffman
20’ – SAC – James Kiffe
42’ – SLC – Nick Besler
82’ – SLC – Max Lachowecki
Real Monarchs SLC: (5-3-2) Sparrow; Cruz, Moberg, Peay, Orozco (Gallagher 45’), Lachowecki (Curinga 120’); Velasquez, Besler, Calvo (Hanlin 59’); Hoffman, Mare (Haber 67’)
Sacramento Republic:: (4-3-3): Newton; Hord, Klimenta, Christian, Kiffe; Cazarez , Hall, Espino; Bijev (Partain 84’), Ochoa (Suma 101’), Kneeshaw (Blackwood 90+2’)
Three Highlights for the Monarchs:
- With his arrival in the 120th minute as time was running out in extra time Kyle Curringa made it into the match on his to honor his mother who was in the stands on her birthday
- Daniel Haber once again proved his worth and work ethic by coming onto the pitch as a substitute and making an immediate difference in the momentum of the match.
- The 2017 Monarchs remain USL Regular Season Champions and holders of only the second piece of soccer hardware won by the organization. Onward and Upward in 2018.
USLSOCCER.COM: Sacramento Stuns Monarchs in Shootout