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Three Takeaways from #PORvSAC

By William Strome, 08/09/20, 1:00PM PDT

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On top of the three points SRFC earned Saturday against T2, Mark Briggs’ men showcased plenty of positives to look back on including another dominant defensive performance, Iwasa nearly nabbing his 50th a handful of times, and an Academy standout earning his first professional appearance

For the first time in nearly three years, the boys in Old Glory Red defeated their Western Conference rival Portland Timbers 2 in the Pacific Northwest. 

An own goal from T2 within the first quarter hour of the match was ultimately the difference as Republic FC maintained a firm hold on second place in Group A with nine points from six games and a win on Wednesday against 1868 FC in Reno could propel SRFC back to the top of the group. 

Before this week’s attention turns to the upcoming midweek match against the Indomitable Club’s regional rival, it was tough to only pick three but it’s time to reflect on the positive takeaways from Saturday’s win.  

Defense One of League’s Most Dominant

Republic FC’s stout defense has shut out its opponent in three of the last four matches and are one of only three clubs in the entire league that have kept a clean sheet in a trio of regular season games in 2020. 

The Indomitable Club has conceded the seventh-fewest goals in the Western Conference and Saturday night’s shutout was goalkeeper Rafael Diaz’s second in as many starts. Diaz now has the second-most individual clean sheets in the league. Over his SRFC career, Rafa’s registered four in USL play and five in all competitions after blanking Reno 1868 FC 1-0 in the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. 

Defenders Tomas Hilliard-Arce and Hayden Sargis made their fifth straight start as the center back pairing alongside one another as Sargis collected a team-high seven clearances and won seven of 10 duels while Hilliard-Arce led his side with eight interceptions. On the flanks, both fullbacks made an impact on both the offensive and defensive fronts as Jordan McCrary registered three clearances and two interceptions while Matt Mahoney delivered an impeccable cross to set up Iwasa’s 50th career goal before it was later ruled an own goal on T2 goalkeeper Jake Leeker.

Speaking of which…

Iwasa Almost Hits Half Century Mark - Twice

Mahoney’s cross was delivered with pinpoint accuracy directly to the forehead of Cameron Iwasa who steered his effort on target and eventually into the T2 goal to lift Republic FC to an early 1-0 lead. 

The goal was thought to be the Sacramento native’s 50th career goal during USL Championship play – 48th with SRFC – but the shot crashed into the crossbar and directly off the GK Leeker before finding its way into the back of the net. 

Come the second half, Iwasa was offered another opportunity to collect the coveted half century milestone when Drew Skundrich was fouled in the Portland box, forcing the referee to point to the penalty spot. The Jesuit High School graduate stepped up and guided his effort on goal before a diving stop from the T2 ‘keeper to his left denied Iwasa the chance to be just the ninth player in league history to tally 50 strikes. 

Julian Chavez Earned First Team Debut

Republic FC Academy standout Julian Chavez stepped onto the pitch for the very first time during a first team league match when the 18-year-old midfielder entered the contest for Sam Werner in the 83rd minute.

In his seven minutes on the field, Chavez had two touches and completed two passes – ending his debut with a 100% passing accuracy. The Sacramento native spent five years in the SRFC Academy and signed a USL Academy contract before the start of the regular season in early March. 

During the 2019-2020 USSDA academy season, Chavez netted six goals in just a dozen games and since 2016, the midfielder collected 37 career goals in 93 appearances with the academy. 

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