(FOX40.COM) — Sacramento Republic FC has defeated the reigning USL champions, San Antonio FC 3-1. The club now advances to the USL Conference Championship, which will be held at Heart Health Park on Nov. 4.
A beautiful, clear sky filled the space above Heart Health Park as thousands of fans filed through the ticket booths to find their seats.
Both teams, which dawned red (San Antonio) and black (Sacramento) as if to echo the sentiment of fire and brimstone, were prepared to engage in battle.
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The first half played into both teams’ strengths: Defense.
But the second half was all Sacramento Republic. In the 49th minute, Russell Cicerone scored a goal on an assist from second-half substitute Damia Viadar, who added the club’s third goal of the match later in the 80th minute.
In the 69th minute, it was midfielder Nick Ross who scored on an assist from Keko to give Republic FC a 2-0 lead.
Goalkeeper Danny Vitiello almost pitched another clean sheet, but a San Antonio goal in stoppage time rendered that obsolete. The Golden Glove winner continues to be a dominant force who anchors a stout Sacramento defense.
Now, the Indomitable Club will host Phoenix Rising for the USL Conference Championship on Saturday at 7 p.m.
The club split the two meetings with Phoenix in the regular season, with Sacramento winning the first match 4-0 and losing the second match on Aug. 30 by a score of 2-1.
Live updates from the USL semifinal match can be found below.
Russell Cicerone almost broke through the final leg of San Antonio’s defense, but was unable to advance the ball due to a swarm of San Antonio players and plenty of contact. No team has made any significant attempts on goal. Referees seem to be permitting physical play.
Defenseman Jack Gurr takes a rough tackle to the shin. He spent some time down on the field before getting back up. Free kick for Sacramento Republic is thwarted by San Antonio. Both teams clearly have made defense a priority in this semifinal match.
The first real offensive threat of the night comes from Republic FC’s leading scorer Russell Cicerone. After a loose ball traveled its way into Sacramento’s possession, Cicerone’s shot on goal was blocked by San Antonio FC goalie Nick Marsman.
San Antonio defenseman Mitchell Taintor fouls a Republic FC player right before the goalie box, which would have led to a penalty kick had it been two inches farther down. Taintor was given a yellow card for the foul. The free kick was an extremely close attempt by Jack Gurr, but it was just off the right post.
Sacramento won the possession battle in the first half (53-47). The club also took more accurate shots than San Antonio (Two shots on goal to zero for San Antonio), but the Texas-based team took more shots overall than Republic FC in the first 45 minutes of play.
GOAL. Sacramento’s leading scorer this season Russell Cicerone puts the Indomitable Club on the board off of a beautiful assist from Damia Viader. Republic FC takes a 1-0 lead.
A shot from just a few yards above midfield almost went in for Republic FC as San Antonio had their goalie pulled out, but the attempt veered to the right and out of play.
Luther Archimède approached the goal, but San Antonio goalie Nick Marsman came out of the box to make a physical sliding tackle. The play evoked quite the fan reaction, including “ref you suck” chants from Sacramento Republic fans.
GOAL. Republic FC takes a 2-0 lead. Midfielder Nick Ross scores from the right corner of the goalie box to give the Indomitable Club a two-goal lead. Keko assisted the goal.
A yellow card has been issued to San Antonio FC Forward Nathan Fogaca.
GOAL. Republic FC lead 3-0. Damia Viader scores in the 80th minute to put the game out of reach. Nick Ross assists.
A yellow card has been issued to San Antonio FC Forward Tanitoluwa Oluwaseyi.
A yellow card has been issued to Sacramento Republic FC Midfielder Luis Felipe.
90 + 1′
San Antonio FC Forward Tanitoluwa Oluwaseyi scores a goal. Sacramento 3, San Antonio 1.