Sergio Valle-Ortiz scored two goals for the San Diego Flash, but it wasn't enough to prevent their first loss of the season, against FC Santa Clarita. Photo Credit: SD Flash
Soccer News: SD Flash Put Up Strong Fight but Fall 4-3 to Santa Clarita Storm
The San Diego Flash fought hard to complete an undefeated National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) season, battling back from a 3-0 deficit, but ultimately lost 4-3 to FC Santa Clarita Storm on Sunday, July 8. It was only the second regular season loss for Flash in their two years in the NPSL, and the Storm had to net a 90th minute goal to pull it off. The win sends Santa Clarita into the Western Conference playoffs next weekend, along with the Flash who clinched the West Southern title earlier in the season.
The Storm came out hard against Flash, as most teams have done all season. This time, though there were the added incentives of an enthusiastic home crowd and a playoff berth on the line for Santa Clarita. The home side scored in the 28th and 37th minutes to take a 2-0 lead into halftime. They then picked up their 50th minute goal to build a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 lead.
San Diego has been nothing if not determined this season, and being down by three was not enough to cause them to give up. Showing a never-say-die attitude, Flash began their comeback three minutes after the third Storm goal.
A penalty against Santa Clarita in the box gave Flash a penalty kick. Sergio Valle-Ortiz, who has been a major cog in the offense this season, stepped up and nailed the kick for the San Diego’s first goal. That seemed to inspire the Flash, but the Storm were determined to keep the lead.
Finally, with 15 minutes left on the clock, John Sawyer scored to cut the Santa Clarita lead to a single goal. San Diego increased the pressure, and with two minutes left Valle-Ortiz found the back of the net to tie the score and give Flash renewed hope for the undefeated season.
Unfortunately for the visitors, a draw was not in the cards. As regulation time ticked off Storm managed to pick up the winning goal, sending San Diego home with their only loss of the regular season as they prepare for the first round of the playoffs.
Flash Head Coach, Warren Barton, commended his players on their comeback. "We had all the reasons in the world to give up today; being down 3 goals in the second half, being on the road, knowing we already clinched our playoff berth. I've told our guys all season that winning is a habit and they have bought in to that mentality. I'm proud of their performance today, regardless of the scoreboard. Next week, we will be ready for our playoff run and will be looking to bring a National Championship to San Diego."
There is a possibility that San Diego could be without one of their key members for the playoffs. The two goals Valle-Ortiz scored could be his last with the Flash if rumors about him joining the North American Soccer League’s (NASL) Atlanta Silverbacks turn out to be true. Recently Flash Player Talent Consultant Eric Wynalda was named interim coach of the Silverbacks. Valle-Ortiz also recently completed tryouts with the MLS San Jose Earthquakes. If so, it could influence the way Barton runs his offense.
The NPSL Western Conference Playoffs start this weekend when the Flash hosts the Sonoma Sol on Saturday, July 14. Kick-off is at 7:00 p.m. at Del Norte High School, 16601 Nighthawk Lane, San Diego, CA, 92127. For ticket information, visit the San Diego Flash website at www.SanDiegoFlashSoccer.com.
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