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Sacramento Stuns Monarchs in Shootout

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 10/21/17, 10:54AM EDT


Newton records two saves to send Republic FC into Western Semifinals

Photo courtesy Real Monarchs SLC

SANDY, Utah – Evan Newton saved a pair of penalty kicks as No. 8-seed Sacramento Republic FC earned a 3-1 victory in a penalty shootout to eliminate 2017 USL Regular Season champion Real Monarchs SLC after the teams had played to a 1-1 draw in the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs at Rio Tinto Stadium on Friday night. The Monarchs took first in the shootout, but Danny Cruz skied his opening shot well over the crossbar. After Hayden Partain converted with Sacramento’s opening shot, Newton saved from Real’s Sebastian Velasquez. The teams then exchanged goals, but after Republic FC’s Jeremy Hall made it 3-1 to end the third round, Newton’s diving stop denied Chandler Hoffman, and gave Sacramento passage to the Western Conference Semifinals next weekend. The contest had finished level 1-1 after regulation as Sacramento took the lead in the 49th minute when Wilson Kneeshaw cut back a low cross to the center of the penalty area from the right, and Luis Espino fired into the roof of the net. The Monarchs almost pulled level with nine minutes to go as a powerful header by Hoffman slid just wide of the left post, but soon after Real’s Max Lachowecki was brought down in the penalty area as the Monarchs grabbed a lifeline, and Hoffman was clinical from the spot to level the score in the 86th minute. Both teams had chances in extra time, with Republic FC almost taking the lead inside a minute of the restart as Partain’s free header from eight yards was brilliantly turned aside by Monarchs goalkeeper Connor Sparrow. The Monarchs’ Daniel Haber also tested Newton from distance in the 98th minute, while Sacramento’s Lamin Suma curled a shot just over in the 117th minute after Sparrow had punched a cross into the left side of the penalty area. But neither side was able to settle matters the in additional 30 minutes of action, allowing Newton to come through as the hero.

49’ – SAC – Luis Espino (Wilson Kneeshaw)
86’ – SLC – Chandler Hoffman (penalty)

Penalty Shootout

SLC: 61-Danny Cruz – Missed; 55-Sebastian Velasquez – Saved; 46-Daniel Haber – Goal; 49-Chandler Hoffman – Saved  

SAC: 32-Hayden Partain – Goal; 15-James Kiffe – Goal; 22-Jeremy Hall – Goal

Three Things That Matter:

  • 1. After suffering defeat in the Western Conference Quarterfinals in each of the past two postseasons, including in a penalty shootout as a No. 1-seed last year, there had to be a great sense of satisfaction in the Republic FC locker room after Friday night’s victory, which saw the side put together a strong road performance and then hold its nerve from the penalty spot to eliminate the Monarchs. Sacramento has put in some good performances over the course of this season, this one included, but now the biggest question will be whether the side can replicate it when it heads on the road to face either the Swope Park Rangers or Phoenix Rising FC in the Western Conference Semifinals.

  • 2. The Monarchs struggled to create chances in the opening half, and the side’s typical flowing style didn’t seem to emerge in full until Daniel Haber was brought on as a substitute in the 67th minute. Before the changes, which also saw Karsten Hanlin introduced, Real’s attack seemed a little too stagnant as the quick ball movement the side had made its reputation on earlier in the regular season went missing. With that flow, however, the Monarchs dominated the final 20 minutes of the game, and grabbed a crucial equalizer with four minutes to go from the penalty spot to send the game to extra time.

  • 3. You might have expected the odds to be in the Monarchs’ favor going to the penalty shootout, with goalkeeper Connor Sparrow having saved four of the five penalty kicks he faced in the 2017 USL regular season. Instead, after Danny Cruz got the hosts off to a dreadful start by spooning his shot well over the crossbar, Sacramento’s shooters held their nerve and Republic FC goalkeeper Evan Newton became the hero. The 29-year-old Newton is no stranger to this kind of pressure, having made the decisive save when OKC Energy FC defeated Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC in the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2015 USL Cup Playoffs. After last season’s disappointment against Orange County SC, Republic FC and Newton were this time on the winning side. Man of the Match

Evan Newton, Sacramento Republic FC – Newton recorded two saves in the penalty shootout to add to a pair of saves in regulation and overtime that earned Republic FC its first postseason victory since 2014.

Upcoming Games:
Real Monarchs SLC
– End of Season
Sacramento Republic FC – USL Western Conference Semifinals, TBA

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