Stefano Bonomo’s Soccer “Buzzer Beater” Advances Republic FC to Next Round
Papa Murphy’s Park in Sacramento was once again the site for some U.S. Open Cup action, as the Republic FC hosted Fresno FC in round three. The winner would advance to face an unannounced MLS team in round four.
Wednesday night’s match featured two very well-matched clubs, each with their fair share of chances to break into the scoring column. Fresno was on the front foot early, controlling majority possession in the first half. A couple good strikes forced Republic keeper Josh Cohen to make some huge saves, keeping the game scoreless heading into the halftime break.
Sacramento came out of the gate in the second half significantly more aggressive. They spent a lot of time in their own attacking third, patiently looking for shooting angles inside and around the box. Credit to Fresno’s defense, who didn’t give the Republic strikers much room to get a shot on target.
Late in the match, approaching full time, Sacramento midfielder Sam Werner, who scored the lone goal in the second round of the cup a couple of weeks ago, had a shot that would result in some controversy. From the top of the box, Werner found some space and rocketed a strike off of the crossbar. From the press box, located at the corner of the pitch, the ball appeared to cross the line before bouncing out and back into play. Werner stuck his hands up to celebrate the apparent score, but officials ruled it a no-goal and play continued.
Upon later review of the video stream on ESPN+, the ball clearly crossed the line. Fresno received a massive break, leading to a scoreless tie at the end of regulation and 30 minutes of extra time.
The first half of extra time was very similar to the first half of regulation, with both teams having opportunities to break into the scoring column. Both defenses, and keepers, were on point however, battling through fatigue to hold strong.
In the closing minutes of extra time, with penalty kicks looking more and more likely, Sacramento unleashed a constant barrage of attacks through two minutes of stoppage time. In the closing seconds, Werner found himself with possession just outside the box on the wing. A perfectly executed cross found the head of forward Stefano Bonomo, and soccer’s version of a “buzzer beater” took place.
Pandemonium ensued on and off the pitch inside Papa Murphy’s Park as the final whistle sounded and Sacramento advanced. Bonomo was swarmed by his teammates before meeting with the media to discuss his first ever goal as a member of the Republic.
Republic head coach Simon Elliott told reporters he was, “delighted for Stefano. He has stayed positive and worked hard in training”.
Sacramento will travel to MLS neighbor club the San Jose Earthquakes for round four of the cup. The Republic were eliminated by San Jose back in 2015, a 2-2 draw that was decided by penalties.
The Republic were eliminated in round five, or the “round of sixteen”, in the U.S. Open Cup last year.