TURLOCK, CALIF. (February 12, 2019) – Academica officially began their preseason with a friendly against USL professional side Fresno FC hosted at Stan State’s Warrior Stadium. AC was looking to revenge a 5-0 loss against Fresno last May in a friendly as the Foxes wanted to continue their winning form after a 2-1 win against LA Galaxy II last Friday.
In frigid conditions, the match was hotly contested. Both teams started brightly, finding space behind defenses and putting in dangerous crosses but no one there to convert the chances. Fresno cashed in on their luck first as a free kick 25 yards out from goal struck by Juan Pablo Caffa deflected off the AC wall and bounced into the open goal. AC continued to press Fresno but found themselves going into the halftime break down 1-0.
The second half began at the same pace as the first. Both teams were finding space high and wide as Gerardo Cazares was fouled by Fresno in their attacking third. Cazares whipped in his freekick from the sideline into the far post, beating Fresno’s keeper and finding the top corner to equalize the match for Academica in the 60th minute. Fresno responded quickly with 2 goals in 2 minutes off of counter attacks to take a 3-1 lead with just over 20 minutes remaining in the match.
The second half saw many substitutions for both sides as players were given a chance to showcase themselves in this preseason friendly. AC substitute Juan Flores whipped in a free kick from the sideline to find a diving Ricky Rosas nod it home past the Fresno goalkeeper in the 78th minute. This set up a nervy last 10 minutes as AC pushed hard for the equalizer. In the dying minutes, Edwin Rodriguez found himself on a breakaway for Academica but his shot went just wide of the top corner as the match ended 3-2 in favor of the visitors.
Academica head coach Sergio Sousa was optimistic despite the final score. “I believe we started off the game very well”, Sousa said. “We had a good amount of possession, but just couldn’t generate enough in the final third until later in the first half. It was great to see the guys perform with such confidence. We knew we were good enough coming into this match. Never backed down and played very well defensively against a very good team. We responded well after having a poor 10 minutes in the second half where Fresno had the momentum and scored twice quickly. We generated opportunities and were threatening all the way until the final whistle. Some would say we were unlucky not to get another goal or two. I would also say we are lucky to have such good goalkeepers who did their job well on the other end, as well. I’m excited for the upcoming season. We are content with the result but not satisfied. We will keep pushing on.”
Fresno continues their preseason schedule with a match against CSU Bakersfield on Feb. 16th while Academica gears up for its NPSL home opener on March 9th against Napa Valley 1839 FC.