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Academica SC earns first NPSL championship
Academica championship
Turlock's semi-professional soccer team Academica SC earned their first National Premier Soccer League title on Aug. 14 after defeating El Farolito 2-0 to become Golden Gate Conference champions (Photo contributed).

Academica SC are champions of the Golden Gate Conference after defeating San Francisco-based El Farolito last weekend, earning Turlock’s semi-professional soccer team their first National Premier Soccer League title.

Academica joined the NPSL prior to the 2018 season, and at the time, team President Simon Bettencourt compared the league to Major League Baseball’s Advanced Single-A play. Just three years later, Academica’s 2-0 victory over El Farolito in the GGC Tournament Final Aug. 14 brought the team’s first championship to Turlock following the NPSL’s Return to Play Series — a season featuring California teams that were hit harder by COVID and forced to start playing later than others.

“After missing out on last season, the squad’s ecstatic to be able to deliver a trophy to our fans and the City of Turlock,” Bettencourt said. 

The finals win was Academica’s sixth shutout of the season, and the team posted shutouts throughout every game of the playoffs in an effort led by keepers Alonso Lara and David Hernandez. Cody Golbad scored Academica’s two second half goals on the night.

“Everyone involved with the club, from the players to game day staff, worked very hard this year and it’s great to see that work be rewarded with a great season and great trophy,” Academica Technical Director Tevin Jones said. 

Academica’s “Black and Gold Brigade” of fans made it out to home matches at the team’s field in Turlock, braving triple digits and even some cold nights enroute to the team’s undefeated home record. 

“A big thank you to all the fans that came out to support the Valley’s team this year and made Academica Field such a unique and special place to play,” Academica General Manager Michael Rocha said. 

Academic will attempt to repeat as GGC champions when the 2022 NPSL season gets underway in March. 

“Saturday’s win was one for all of those who support us. Hundreds of people watching our match, cheering on the guys who dedicated their time to putting together a product that was good enough to go on to win the whole thing,” Academica head coach Sergio Sousa said. “I’m glad we got to do it at home and am looking forward to doing it again.”

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