Knowing what it takes, and the feelings that go with it, to compete for, and, ultimately win, a major championship, the Valley’s Chris Daly was more than up to the challenge of captaining the Sonoma County Sol men’s semipro soccer team through an undefeated regular season and playoffs to reach the National Premier Soccer League title match.
Daly – a 2000 Sonoma Valley High School graduate and former collegiate soccer standout at Sonoma State University – fellow captain Lee Summerscales and their West Region champion Sol teammates, guided by coach Vinnie Cortezzo, battled South Region champ RVA Football Club in Richmond, Va., for the NPSL crown on Sunday.
Competing in their third NPSL championship match, having fallen short in 2005 before winning the title in 2009 with Daly also serving as captain, the Sonoma County Sol couldn’t find the net and ended up tasting defeat for the first time in the season and dropped a 2-0 decision.
To reach the NPSL championship match, Sonoma defeated the Sacramento Gold in the West Region final, then beat the San Diego Flash in the playoffs opener to advance to the final four, where the Sol edged the Northeast Region champion FC Lehigh Valley United Sonic from Pennsylvania 3-2 in a semifinal showdown.
In its semifinal match, finalist RVA Football Club upended the Midwest Region champ Lake Erie Admirals, which is the same team that the Sonoma County Sol nipped 2-1 in double-overtime in Madison, Wis., to win its first NPSL title in 2009.
Joining Daly – a center-midfielder who was a three-time all-conference collegiate player who helped SSU win the NCAA Division II Championship in 2002 – in helping the Sol claim their first national crown in 2009 were two other SVHS graduates and former prep Dragon standouts: his brother, Mickey Daly (2005) and Scott Preckwinkle (2004).
Preckwinkle, a center-defender, was a two-time all-conference selection and team captain for SSU and was also named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII Men’s Soccer Team.
Mickey Daly, a starting right-defender, was an All-American and conference defensive player of the year (2007) for Santa Rosa Junior College and will play his final season for California State University, Los Angeles, where he was named “newcomer of the year” and earned All-West Regional honors.
Speaking of SVHS graduates and former and current soccer standouts, Katie Benz (2008) and Annie Studdert (2012) are playing soccer together as teammates for the North Bay Wave, which is comprised of current and former Division 1 players from all over the country, as well as international players.
Benz, a prep all-league and All-Empire performer for the Lady Dragons, was a starter and leading scorer for the University of California Berkeley Golden Bear women.
Studdert, also a prep all-league and All-Empire star for the Lady Dragons, is on an athletic scholarship at Clemson University.