It was win or go home for Turlock-based pro soccer team Academica SC on Tuesday in the opening round match of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup when they hosted league foe El Farolito in a televised game. Unfortunately for Academica, they fell 2-1.
“I didn’t feel the pressure of being on ESPN+, I think maybe they did,” said Academica head coach Sergio Sousa. “I thought we weren’t brave enough, thought we were uneasy and allowed them to stay alive and gave up two goals we shouldn’t have, and we left it there. They have our number.”
“I think we prepared well. We know the team well and worked on some things. We played them a couple weeks ago, and they have some different players, but unlucky goals, little things that cost us and you do that in games like this it hurts you,” said Jorge Carmona of Academica.
Heading into Tuesday’s first U.S. Open Cup match ever for Academica they had some jitters to get out.
In the opening 10 minutes they paced well before EF began to handle control of possession — and they did until the final whistle blew for halftime.
Miguel Angel Garduno scored the first goal for EF in the 21st minute off a set piece.
This led to the second goal about 14 minutes later when Leonardo Fredes tipped a ball to himself and he did a bicycle kick goal with one foot to the far corner as he tucked it in nicely to extend the lead to 2-0.
The score remained the same heading into the half.
The momentum took a drastic change when EF was called for their first and only red of the game following multiple yellow cards on Walter Mazzolatti.
This gave new life in Academica who then began to press.
They began to control possession after the red card in the 54th minute until the game ended.
Carmona scored the only goal for Academica in the 72-minute mark and the score read 2-1.
From this point on Academica continued to push forward and create chances in the attacking third, only plenty of shots sailed away from the post.
“The first half started how we wanted and then we kind of lost it and they adjusted and then we had to adjust again in the second half, came out a little stronger, but two goals down are tough to bounce back from that,” said Carmona. “I centered the first time, and the goalie came back out and hit the first post, beat him first post, just sucks we couldn’t get another one.”
Despite five minutes of stoppage time, Academica could not find the back of the net again.
El Farolito beat Academica from Boxer Stadium back on April 13 in a 3-1 final.
Academica won four games prior to qualifying for the tournament.
They played their first round last Sept. 22, against Davis Legacy and won from home, 4-1.
Following their first-round win, Academica returned on Oct. 20 to defeat Contra Costa FC at home in a 3-2 final.
In the third qualifying game against Oakland Stompers on Jan. 5, Academica won it 1-0.
Then in the fourth and final qualifying match, Academica beat International Portland Select FC on April 6, in a penalty kick showdown.
“We have eight teams in our division. Six teams battling for a playoff spot and these guys are in the same boat that we are,” Sousa added. “There are three teams tied for last playoff spot with five games left, a team with 11 and 10 points and three teams with nine points, we are one of the three. The teams ahead of us we play once each as well.”
Next home game for Academica will be against FC Davis at 6 p.m. May 18.