Three NorCal Sides Take Home NPL National Titles
Earlier this month at the NPL Finals in Commerce City, Colorado, three NorCal sides took home national titles: the 2009 San Juan South Girls, the 2009 Association Football Club boys, and the 2008 1974 Newark FC boys.
As three of 12 NorCal sides in the competition, the trio of winners fought through a series of group stages matches before winning each of their knockout round games to claim championships.
Each of the dozen NorCal teams there qualified for the competition based on their finish in NPL play during the spring season – only teams from the NPL Champions League and ECNL-RL were eligible to qualify for the NPL Finals.
“Bringing home our club’s first NPL national championship and our first NorCal State Cup are huge accomplishments for our small club from Stockton,” said San Juan South head coach Carmen Padilla.
After claiming that State Cup title in June, Padilla’s side were unstoppable one month later in Colorado – San Juan South scored 11 goals at the NPL Finals while allowing just a solitary strike, culminating in a 2-0 victory over Club Ohio in the championship round.
“(Our victory) is a true reflection of our entire club’s hard work and commitment to creating a positive, competitive environment for our players,” Padilla said. “Thank you to all of our San Juan South coaches, players, and families – this win is all of ours.”
Two days after San Juan South’s title, 1974 Newark FC and Association Football Club each also lifted the trophy – their pair of shutout victories ensured that NorCal went a perfect three for three in the championship round.
1974 Newark FC claimed their title in dramatic fashion, recording a 1-0 overtime victory over Club Deportivo La Esperanza of Santa Barbara after previously cruising through the knockout rounds.
“Our preparation on and off the field was the key, the boys came into these playoffs with experience in two national championships,” said Newark head coach Fausto “Lato” Villegas. “The whole team gave it all on the field in every game.”
“We have put 1974 Newark FC on the map,” Villegas added. “Hopefully it motivates other players and teams to work to maybe win a national championship at this level.”
Two hours after Villegas and Co. secured their victory, Association Football Club defeated Sting Nebraska 3-0 to claim a title of their own.
During the NPL Finals, AFC scored 19 goals, while allowing just three – none of which came in the knockout stages.
“For our club, our team and the whole AFC community it represents the beginning,” said AFC head coach David Barrett. “We are a fairly new club and have been slowly achieving success in multiple age groups on various platforms. To win an NPL National Title creates motivation for all our players. As coaches we would love this to inspire our other AFC teams, especially our younger ones to want to strive for similar accolades.”