SACRAMENTO — Tommy Stewart just cannot stop scoring goals.
The Northern Irish forward poked home a Justin Braun through ball in the 15th minute for Stewart’s seventh goal in the past seven games, in which the streaking Sacramento Republic FC has compiled a 6-0-1 record.
“I didn’t even know it was that,” Stewart said when asked about his scoring streak. “That’s kind of my job. The boys have been playing really well and creating chances and I’ve been in the right place to finish them off. That’s all it’s been down to, good play by the team.”
The 2-0 win over Wilmington Hammerheads FC, in front of another sellout crowd of 8,000 at Bonney Field on Wednesday night, propelled the Republic (15-6-3) to 48 points on the season, just one point behind second-place Richmond and four behind faltering Orlando, the only team that Sacramento failed to defeat in its unbeaten streak.
Despite the early lead for the locals, and the better of the play, the Republic struggled to create a second goal until the 76th minute, when defender Emrah Klimenta won a ball 25-yards out from goal.
As Hammerhead defenders looked to the referee for a foul call, the right back smashed an 18-yard shot into the lower right hand corner to bring on mass celebrations and ensure the result for the home side.
With just four games remaining in the regular season, three of which are at Bonney, Sacramento seems to be finding its form at the right time.
Though they have already clinched a spot in the single-elimination playoff format, securing a good seed is important as the higher-seeded team will host each leg of the playoffs. Republic FC is 8-1-2 at home overall and 6-0-1 at Bonney Field.
“Our home form is excellent,” Stewart said. “We want to finish the season as high as we can to guarantee us home-field advantage. That’s our main aim, to finish as strong as we can. We believe we can beat most teams in the league, any team, on our day.”
Notes: USL PRO rosters froze Tuesday meaning that Sacramento can no longer sign any new players this season. Loanees Jake Gleeson, Steven Evans, Adam Jahn, Tommy Thompson and J.J. Koval are eligible to play for the rest of the season even if they get recalled to their parent clubs. Jahn, Thompson and Koval all played for the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday in a 1-1 draw against the Seattle Sounders.
— Reach Evan Ream at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanReam