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Thriller but a draw: Sacramento Republic 3, Reno 1868 3

Republic FC’s winning streak snapped by late Reno equalizer.

Courtesy of Republic FC.

Sacramento Republic FC maintained their unbeaten streak, but their six-game winning streak was snapped Saturday as they conceded in stoppage time in a rather-entertaining 3-3 draw at Papa Murphy’s Park.

Unlike previous encounters between the teams this year, this game was full of goals, teams trading leads and plenty of crunching tackles. It looked like Jaime Villarreal had won the game for Sacramento, but Aidan Apodaca’s equalizer in the 93rd minute left the teams to split the points in the third edition this season of the Donner Pass Derby.

Villarreal got the nod to start for Sacramento in this game, after his game-breaking performance Wednesday against Orange County and with Rodrigo Lopez suspended.

The action started immediately in this one, unlike previous encounters between these teams where the action could be sleepy at times. Reno finally broke their scoring duck against Sacramento this season very early in this game, as Foster Langsdorf scored two minutes in, his spinning header off Christiano Francois’ free kick service leaving Sacramento temporarily flummoxed.

But Republic FC had a quick answer, as Sam Werner scored in the fifth minute, his header from close range beating Ben Beaury in Reno’s goal, with Kharlton Belmar setting up the goal with a perfect cross.

A little after the 20-minute mark, a cross in the 18-yard box by Dariusz Formella appeared to be handled by Reno’s Brent Richards, but Sacramento’s appeals for a penalty was ignored by the referee.

But Formella scored his sixth goal of the season in the 32nd minute, as a lightning-quick counterattack led to Belmar springing Formella in the left channel, with the Polish attacker hitting a good stroke to make it 2-1 for Sac Republic.

Shannon Gomez entered the game at halftime, replacing Ash Apollon at left back.

Sacramento started the second half a bit sloppy, but by about 10 minutes into the second stanza, they were shooting frequently and making Beaury do work to keep Republic FC from extending their lead.

Ian Russell made a slew of changes for Reno just after the hour mark, and they saw a change a few minutes later, as Gomez was whistled for a trip on Kevin Partida in Sacramento’s box. Republic FC thought Partida dived, but the referee awarded the PK, and Partida scored in the 67th minute to make it 2-2.

But once again, Republic FC found a quick answer, as Villarreal scored a go-ahead goal in the 73rd minute from distance and through traffic to make it 3-2.

Shortly after the restart from that goal, Gomez saved the equalizer, as Partida’s corner kick for Reno was headed towards the target, but the right back headed it away off the line for Sacramento.

Lopez entered the game in the final 15 minutes for Republic FC, making his debut for the club on loan from OKC Energy FC.

SRFC had another goal-line clearance, in the final 10 minutes, as a save from Rafa Diaz squirted along the line and Jordan McCrary bundled it away. Reno called for a penalty, but this time the referee waived off their appeals. The replay was inconclusive, to be honest.

It looked like Republic FC would hold on for another win, but Apodaca came up with an impressive goal, eluding several defenders to get his shot off, to score in the 93rd minute and leave Reno feeling like they’d won and Sacramento like they’d lost, even though the teams tied in the end.

Overall, it was a tough game between two good teams, and both sides had their moments in this game. Surely Sacramento will be disappointed to drop two points, but this was a battle between two contenders and for the neutral it was a great game. For Sacramento? Back to the drawing board to improve their execution to try and start a new winning streak.

Sac Republic have a week before their next game, next Saturday against Tacoma Defiance at Papa Murphy’s Park. Sacramento’s playoff spot is nearly assured at this point, but to book their spot, they need to keep their foot on the pedal to rack up results and points in the homestretch of the regular season.

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