“To do it in your first year, as an expansion team, is something pretty special,” RVA assistant coach Don Hughes commented. “It is a testament to these boys. It’s amazing to be around.”
|Photo credit: RVA FC|
It was a fast-paced match with two attacking sides. Simply put, it was 90 minutes of exciting soccer. A goal in the 18th minute by RVA forward Josh Grant, assisted by Todd Wharton, got things started for the home side. Grant scored from 30 yards to put RVA up 1-0, a score that they took into the locker room at halftime. RVA’s second goal came from striker Manel Bel in the 88th. Bel, whose father played for legendary Spanish side FC Barcelona, pushed the rebound over Sonoma keeper James Del Curto to seal the victory for Richmond.
The Sol had plenty of opportunities of their own as they pressured RVA for the entire match. Sol defender Taylor Varnadore, who scored the game-winner on a bicycle kick against FC LVU Sonic in the National Semifinals, nearly was the hero again as his shot just missed in the 57th minute. Fellow Sonoma defender Cody Martin had a shot clank off the post just 10 minutes later. Both were solid opportunities that gave Sol fans hope until the final whistle. The match was truly a showcase for the high quality of play of NPSL teams. Almost 1500 fans enjoyed a great atmosphere and lots of entertaining soccer. RVA’s national title was quite an accomplishment, considering that they were in their first year in the NPSL.
“It means the world to us,” RVA defender/midfielder Ryan Zinkhan stated. “All the hard work paid off for us. Sonoma were attacking us and putting pressuring against us and we were on our heels for a little bit, but we came together as a team and pulled out the win.”