The Flash locked up the West-South Conference Championship a number of weeks ago and now head into the 1st round playoff match of vs. Sonoma Sol (7 - 4 - 3) with home field advantage. The match is scheduled for Saturday July 14 at Del Norte High School near Poway (7pm kick-off).
The Flash is seeking to create history by winning the National Championship in front of its home fans. The National Premier Soccer League Championships (NPSL) will be hosted by the Flash right here in San Diego from July 27 - 29. The winner from each of the four Conferences (of the 49 teams nationwide) will then compete in a 'Final Four' style, 3 day event to determine the 2012 NPSL Champion.
The Western Conference Playoff format will pit the #1 placed SD Flash of the South vs the #2 placed Sonoma Sol of the North. In the other Semi-Final, #1 of the North; Bay Area Ambassadors (9 - 4 - 1) will face off against #2 of the South; FC Santa Clarita Storm.
As with most teams all season, the Storm came out firing against the Flash early but were playing with the added incentive of a finals spot should the win. This strategy paid dividends with Santa Clarita able to net goals in the 28th and 37th minutes and a 2:0 lead into halftime. In the second half, it looked to be more of the same as the Storm added another goal just 5 minutes later (50th minute).
But the Flash have shown a never say die attitude this season and three minutes after the Santa Clarita goal, a foul in the area resulted in a penalty for the boys in yellow. Sergio Valle-Ortiz, who has in recent days been rumored to be joining Eric Wynalda and his Atlanta Silverbacks of the NASL, stepped up and nailed the PK in the back of the net.
The goal seemed to wake up the SD Flash but they couldn’t find a second breakthrough. With time winding down and with only 15 minutes left on the clock, even the most optimistic of fans would say that being 3:1 down at this point would seem like a mountain too high. But when Jon Sawyer netted in the 74th minute the comeback was back on. Then in the 88th minute, it was fitting that the best player on the field, Valle-Ortiz, was able to tie the match at 3 - 3 in what was a thrilling comeback.
But that fairytale ending to the season was not to be, especially with the desperation of a side battling for their playoff lives riding on the back of a vocal home crowd. And if there couldn’t be any more drama in a game that people will be talking about for a long time, a Storm player popped up in the 90th minute, to secure the win, their finals spot and an end to the prospect of an undefeated season.
Flash Head Coach, Warren Barton, commended his players on their comeback. "We had all the reasons in the world to give up today; being down 3 goals in the second half, being on the road, knowing we already clinched our playoff berth. I've told our guys all season that winning is a habit and they have bought in to that mentality. I'm proud of their performance today, regardless of the scoreboard. Next week, we will be ready for our playoff run and will be looking to bring a National Championship to San Diego."
The NPSL Western Conference Playoffs start this weekend when the Flash hosts the Sonoma Sol on Saturday July 14. Kick-off is at 7pm at Del Norte High School, 16601 Nighthawk Lane, San Diego, CA, 92127. Fans can purchase discount tickets online and receive a 20% off face value if booked by Friday at www.SanDiegoFlashSoccer.com