Republic FC defeats Sacramento State 1-0

On the same day as his announced signing, 20-year-old Harry Williams scored the only goal in Republic FC’s 1-0 win over Sacramento State in a friendly Wednesday afternoon in front of announced crowd of 907 at Hornet Field.

Williams, Republic FC’s youngest player, scored on a far-post shot from an assist credited to former Sac State star Max Alvarez in the 13th minute.

But Sac State, showing that it may be a Big West Conference title contender this fall, held off the USL side the rest of the way in what was an entertaining match.

“I thought we worked really hard defensively and made things difficult for them and created a few chances on the counter,” said Sac State coach Michael Linenberger. He said that it was the largest crowd to see a match at Hornet Field since 2010, when Sac State hosted Santa Clara in the NCAA tournament.

Republic FC outshot Sac State 15-5 and had four shots on goal to the Hornets’ two.

Although Williams’ signing was officially announced Wednesday by the club, the native of England has been with the team since training started. He played in both friendlies against the Colorado Rapids and San Jose Earthquakes, though he didn’t score.

And although he turned 20 on Jan. 17, he already has played two pro seasons with Cheltenham Town FC – Republic FC coach Paul Buckle’s last coaching stop in England. He holds Cheltenham Town’s youth record for goals in a season with 38.

“Maybe it could have been announced against the Quakes or the Colorado Rapids, against an MLS team,” Williams said smiling of his first American goal. “But it was a good game. I thought we controlled it. Maybe we could have gotten a few more goals, but I enjoyed it.”

Williams played the first 45 minutes, then was replaced at the half by Mackenzie Pridham, another new Republic FC signing this week. The former Cal Poly star and Hornets rival got off several shots but none that could find the net.

Sacramento’s best attempt, other than Williams’ goal, came in the 89th minute when midfielder Danny Barrera’s blast from a free kick hit the crossbar.

Sac State’s best opportunity came in the fourth minute when sophomore Cyrus Sandoval had an open look from the top left corner of the box, but missed wide to the far post.

Republic FC goalkeeper Dominik Jakubek made saves on shot attempts by midfielders Dominic Scotti (Granite Bay High School) and Trevor Jackson (Bella Vista). Goalkeeper Philip Bru had two saves for Sac State and John Quintanilla, Fernando Ochoa and Javier Munoz (Galt) were among those to anchor a defense that was tested throughout.

Alvarez, who helped Sac State win its last two conference championships in 2009 and 2010, was happy to be back at his alma mater.

“It’s always great to see familiar faces, and it was a good experience to be here again,” said Alvarez, who missed last year’s scrimmage between the two sides because of an injury. “It was a great turnout for a spring game. We approached it like it was the last game we would ever play.”

He was impressed with how well Sac State played.

“They have a good core of guys, and they had a good performance today,” he said.

Junior defender Preston Davis (Bella Vista) said that a nine-day trip to Costa Rica last month helped prepare them to play Republic FC. During the trip, the Hornets went 2-1-1 against top pro reserve teams.

“It’s always a great opportunity to play the local pro team,” Davis said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to play them the last three years, and I think each year we play them we get a little better. It’s nice to see what the next level is like.…I think we gave them a fairly easy goal early on, but we regrouped and gave them a good game.”

Republic FC will next play the Sonoma County Sol on Saturday night in Santa Rosa. Sac State will continue its spring season with a March 28 match at Cal.

Bill Paterson: 916-326-5506, @SacBee_BillP

Related stories from Sacramento Bee