Academy products score for Sac in win over Portland

Mario Penagos, left, of Elk Grove, and Julian Chavez celebrate after Chavez scores what would be the winning goal in Portland on Sept. 2.

In the dying moments of the match on Wednesday afternoon, Mario Penagos and Julian Chavez – two products of the Republic FC Academy development pipeline – scored their first career goals with the first team. Their late match efforts ensured that all three points head back to Sacramento after a thrilling 2-1 win over Portland Timbers 2.

“It’s amazing for them, amazing for their development. We needed something in the moment. We needed something special and both of our Academy players stepped up and provided something special for the team,” said head coach Mark Briggs. “That’s just rewarding for everyone in general, so I’m over the moon for Mario and Juju. They deserve to be rewarded for the goals they’ve scored and giving them time in crucial moments shows the trust we have in them.”

In the seventh minute of the game, both teams halted play and came together to take a collective knee at midfield for a powerful demonstration in support of social justice and recognize the fight for equality, inclusivity and diversity.

Both sides entered the break scoreless but were creating plenty of chances with the final opportunity before the whistle from Timbers 2 forcing goalkeeper Rafael Diaz to make a save on his near post from close range.

But the Sacramento shot stopper wasn’t done coming up big for his side and in the 75th minute, Diaz made a veteran play after a long ball was played to an open Giovanni Calixtro with nothing but Rafa and goal in front of him. As the T2 forward tried to lob his effort over Diaz, Rafa – who was well out of the box – knew exactly where he was on the pitch and threw his shoulder into the shot to deflect to the side. Diaz then chased the shot, beat Calixtro to the loose ball to head it back into his own box where he safely secured the ball.

The Indomitable Club took the lead late after Penagos netted in the 87th to lift his side to a 1-0 lead. Chavez delivered a pass to Cameron Iwasa at the top of the box and with his first touch the career 50-goal scorer played a delicate ball to Penagos surging towards net and all the young midfielder had to do was steer his shot by the T2 goalkeeper to gift SRFC a 1-0 advantage and collect his first career goal during USL Championship play.

The hosts were quick to respond and in the second minute of stoppage time when Max Ornstil found Dyson Clapier, who bagged the late equalizer.

But SRFC were far from finished and with the last kick of the game, Chavez danced around his defender and delivered a curling left-footed that carved its way into the near corner of the net to secure a stunning 2-1 road win. The goal was also Chavez’s first with the first team during Championship play.

Defender Shannon Gomez was named to the starting eleven and played a full 90 minutes for the first time since a July 2019 fixture against Orange County SC.

Sac Republic return home for another midweek matchup when OCSC visits Papa Murphy’s Park on Wednesday, Sept. 9.