Story by Gabe Zitrin. Photos by Nap Ba available here!
For months, a rash of injuries and lack of consistent finishing have forced San Francisco City FC head coach Paddy Coyne to use a rotating cast of target strikers in the hopes of finding the one who can break through and end City’s offensive struggles. In the final game of the PDL season, he may have found just the player in USF’s David Garrett, who scored twice in his first 40 minutes in black and gold to lead City to a resounding 4-0 win over local rivals Burlingame Dragons FC on a cold and blustery evening in Kezar Stadium.
For a while after kickoff it looked like the fans might be focusing on the goalkeepers for much of the night. City’s Andrew Epstein robbed Matt Wiesenfarth in the 10th minute after a slick move from Gabe Silveira allowed him to whip in a cross from the left side. The header from Wiesenfarth was on target, but Epstein dove to full extension to his right to swat it away.
Epstein’s counterpart J.T. Marcinkowski returned the favor in the 13th minute with a gorgeous kick-save on Johannes Demarzi’s header, then leapt to deny City captain Danny Kirkland’s long-distance effort moments later to keep the game scoreless. That put the ball back in Epstein’s court (box?), and the Stanford netminder’s next display was to deny Burlingame’s Jose Mendoza from close range during a long scuffle in the City area.
Epstein’s heroics paid off in the 22nd minute as City took the lead through the magical left foot of Danny Kirkland. After Demarzi did well to run down a long ball along the right side and draw a hard foul from Burlingame center back Brock Messenger, Kirkland lined up a free kick near the corner flag that one would ordinarily expect to be sent in as a cross to find a friendly head. Instead Kirkland caught Marcinkowski (and the rest of the stadium) by surprise, placing the free kick perfectly in the top far corner.
As welcome as the opening goal was for City’s fans, they were downright ecstatic when the lead was doubled just three minutes later. Debutant striker Garrett used his superior size and speed in the 25th minute to chase down a long ball between center backs Messenger and Alex Guillen-Torresand chipped over the charging Marcinkowski. Guillen-Torres appeared to run down the shot in time to clear it off the line, but couldn’t get his footing for a proper clearance, and the lead stretched to 2-0.
City’s response to scoring again was to keep swarming forward, and they applied constant pressure on the Dragons until Garrett struck again in the 37th, putting the game effectively on ice. Garrett outmuscled Messenger for the ball on a direct run, then fired from the left channel past a helpless Marcinkowski, creating a third goal seemingly out of nothing. On the stroke of halftime Garrett repeated his move once again to beat the center backs and close in on goal, but couldn’t beat Marcinkowski to complete a first half hat trick.
City’s scoring ways resumed just after half-time when Kirkland picked up his second of the night from the penalty spot in the 50th minute. Johannes Demarzi earned the penalty after Nick Littleton’s smart pass found Demarzi driving into the City box with only Marcinkowski to beat, and Burlingame’s Luis Hernandez had little choice but to clip Demarzi’s feet, with the referee signaling for a free kick immediately. Marcinkowski’s guessed correctly with a dive to his left, but Kirkland powered the ball past him anyway to take the lead to four.
A series of substitutions from both sides saw the game settle down through most of the second half, but Burlingame never stopped pushing forward even with the game out of reach, and even with it further out of reach after Luis Hernandez’s second yellow card of the night put the Dragons a man down for the final 13 minutes. City’s final flurry in the 90th minute nearly netted them a fifth, as Garrett showed off the holdup aspect of his game and Kirkland almost managed an even more astonishing free kick goal from the corner.
In the end City’s 4-0 win ended the season on as high a note as fans rushed the field to celebrate the derby win with players and staff. As summer rolls on San Francisco City will look to focus on community events and the occasional friendly as they look to build chemistry and support heading into their second PDL season.
Man of the Match: David Garrett
Daniel Day-Lewis Award For Best Left Foot: Danny Kirkland
Beard That Ate Burlingame Award: Ben Brewster
Grass Award For Being All Over the Field: Barry McCabe