A month of play is officially in the books for the Academica soccer clubs of Turlock in their inaugural United Soccer League seasons, and it’s been a month of several ups and downs.
It didn’t seem like the week things would end on a positive note as their May 20 match against the Davis Legacy SC winded down. Coming to that match Academica lost their first two games of the season to the SF Glens by a combined score of 6-3. In the 18th minute on Friday, Davis’ Austin Wehner scored to put his team ahead 1-0. The goal not only represented an early lead, but it continued the streak of Academica failing to have a lead of any sort in their short time in USL League Two. Amid the frustrating string of events over the course of the past two weeks, Academica – particularly Kevin Capetillo – was able to channel emotions for the better.
“Being down 1-0, that made us change our mentality for the better,” the midfielder said. “Pretty much our coach (Sergio Sousa) told us we had to turn it back, and we all had the mentality of being dogs.”
And that’s exactly the mentality Capetillo had, as he found an opening from far behind the penalty area in the 69th minute to knock the ball into the back of the net to tie the match at 1-1. 11 minutes later, Daniel Borges dribbled through defenders to score the go-ahead and game-winning goal in the 2-1 final.
“After the first goal, I thought we had the momentum to score the second goal. That’s what helped us out,” Capetillo said.
The win was their first for the club in USL League Two play. But the joy soon turned into more frustration in their next game against San Francisco City FC, and later into heartbreak in the waning minutes of club’s latest match against Project 510 of Oakland.
Against SF City FC on May 26, Academica found themselves looking up at a 1-0 deficit after a 31st minute goal by Sergio Laguna. A draw was salvaged thanks to Desmond Madrigal finding the back of the net in the 52nd minute. Unfortunately, no other offense was able to be generated. In their last match against Project 510 on Wednesday, another draw seemed likely as stoppage time nearly ran out with things sitting at 1-1 after goals from Academica’s Felipe Lopez and 510’s Sebastian Quiroz. In the 92nd minute of the match and the referees waiting to blow the final whistle at any second, Luis Saldana found an opening in the Academica defensive line and put his team ahead for good.
The three results push the Academica men’s record to 1-3-1, leaving them in fifth place in the seven-team NorCal Division.
As the men went 1-1-1 to close out the month of May, the Academica women continued to struggle in the USL W, though there have been a handful of bright spots.
On May 20, the ladies were on the road in Stockton to take on the Stockton Cargo FC – the first ever rivalry match between the two 209 teams, tabbed as the 209 Clasico. It was a matchup that players were excited for.
“Super excited to play them, the rival from the Valley. There’s two teams in the Valley, and I’m super excited to see who betters the other,” said goalkeeper Malia Allen.
They eventually lost by a 5-2 score and remain winless, but a bit of Academica history was made and celebrated. Despite trailing 3-0 right before the half in the second minute of stoppage time, Jaedyn Sanders scored for the first USL W goal for the club. Jenna Villanueva scored a second goal in the 70th minute. For the Cargo, a familiar face for local soccer fans was a driving force, as it was Alexis Brewah of Stanislaus State who scored two goals for the Stockton club.
On May 24 against the Pleasanton Rage, they fell by a 3-0 score. Similar results came in their latest match as they fell 4-0 to the Oakland Soul FC. Academica WSC remain winless in their 2023 USL W campaign and are in last place with a 0-5-0 record.
Both Academica squads will look to climb their respective standings when they host a home doubleheader on Saturday at Academica Fields in Turlock. The women’s team will take the pitch first at 4 p.m. to take on the Marin FC Sirens while the men will serve as the nightcap against Marin FC Legends at 7 p.m.