soccer

Photo courtesy of John Jaccobs

Frank Lopez played his first game with the Sac Republic FC Sept. 12.

Republic FC elevated its current undefeated streak to eight games after Saturday night’s 3-3 draw against Reno 1868 FC at Papa Murphy’s Park, but they fell just short of breaking their record for consecutive wins after Reno tied the game at 3-3 just before the final whistle blew.

The result leaves Sacramento level on 25 points with Reno, and the points earned on the night help the Indomitable Club inch closer toward solidifying a playoff spot, which the team can accomplish next weekend against Tacoma Defiance.

Mark Briggs’ men fell behind in the second minute of the match when Foster Langsdorf connected with a Christiano Francois cross and directed his header into the goal to lift Reno to a 1-0 lead.

But it took Republic FC all of three minutes to equalize when Sam Werner drilled home a header of his own after Kharlton Belmar delivered a perfectly placed cross from the right wing. The goal was Werner’s first score on the season while the assist was the first of two for Belmar on the night.

Sacramento snagged its first lead of the match when Belmar set up his side’s second strike after he spotted Dariusz Formella on the left flank with plenty of space between himself and the goal. The Polish playmaker drove forward and fired a left-footed shot toward the far post and by the visiting goalkeeper. The goal was Formella’s team-best sixth with SRFC this season, and Belmar has now notched a team-high four assists in 2020.

In the 67th minute, Reno was awarded a penalty after the referee pointed to the spot, and Kevin Partida’s well-placed effort into the far corner knotted the game at 2-2.

Republic FC reclaimed the lead in the 73rd minute when a loose ball from a corner kick found Cameron Iwasa, who laid a delicate pass off to Jaime Villarreal at the top of the box and the midfielder drilled his first touch into goal for his first score of the season. Newly acquired on-loan striker from OKC Energy FC Frank Lopez made his debut for the club as a 78th minute second half substitute for Sam Werner.

“We’ve got to get Frank fit, and we’ve got to get Frank fit pretty quickly. I think you could all see that but I thought he just brings an intensity, he brings in aggression. You saw him go in and slide in with a goalkeeper. He ruffles feathers on opposition teams. He’s a nice guy off the field but, when he goes on that field, he’s not a nice guy. And we need more of that. So I was happy with Frank and what he contributed for the 15 minutes he was on. And I think there’s a lot more to come from him,” Sac Republic coach Mark Briggs said after the game.

Villarreal’s strike lifted the Indomitable Club to a 3-2 lead before 1868 FC found a late equalizer by way of Aidan Apodaca in the 90th minute.

“They played well, we were the better team. But we have to learn. It’s not good enough to keep saying next time, next time; no, there’s not a next time. There’s that 90 minutes, and we should have won the game,” Briggs said afterward.

The Sac Republic have a third straight home game ahead of them when Tacoma Defiance visits Papa Murphy’s Park on Saturday, Sept. 19. Kickoff for the clash against SRFC’s fellow Group A opponent is set for 7:30 p.m.

Photo courtesy of John Jaccobs

Frank Lopez played his first game with the Sac Republic FC Sept. 12.