It's July in Sonoma County and for the past few weeks the summer heat is coming directly from the Sol, the county's fourth-level professional soccer team.
In fact, there has been a "Solabration" going on in Rohnert Park the past few weekends.
The undefeated Sol (11-0-3) defeated the Sacramento Gold on Saturday night 3-1 in overtime at Rancho Cotate High to advance to the final four of the eight-year old National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), a 57-team nationwide league.
The Sol won the West Region by beating the Gold and the San Diego Flash in the first round of the West Division playoffs.
"We have a strong possibility to win it all because of our depth," second-year Sol coach Vinnie Cortezzo said. "I like our chances, our guys are really motivated."
The other teams in the final four include the Erie Admirals (Midwest Region), RVA Football Club (South) and FC LVU Sonic (Northeast). The Sol has not played any of the other finalists during the regular season.
The Sol, with 24 total players on the roster and 18 on game days, will host a semifinal game on Saturday at 7 p.m. The opponent has yet to be determined. The host location of the final will be determined after the semifinals, but if the Sol make it to the championship they may be hosting.
Most of the Sol players have Sonoma County roots having played previously with a Redwood Empire high school or at Santa Rosa Junior College or Sonoma State.
"This is a special group of guys that like to play together," Cortezzo said. "It is a really tight group and a lot of the guys have played together before."
The Sol lost in the West Region finals last season. Sonoma County won the NPSL in 2009, beating Erie 2-1, and is striving to bring home the trophy again this year.
"We took another step beating Sacramento but we are determined to win it all again," Cortezzo said. "An undefeated national championship would be pretty impressive. There is a lot to play for right now."
The Sol plays a 4-3-3 formation and is led offensively by striker Ross Middlemiss and Trevor Hurst. Defensively the Sol is anchored by 18-year old James Del Curto, who graduated from Cardinal Newman a few months ago. Team captains Chris Daly and Lee Summerscales provide the leadership.
"Summerscales has a way of getting after guys in a way that the guys can accept," Cortezzo said.
The Sol players actually pay dues to be on the team, one of the few, if not the only team in the NPSL (formed in 2006) that has this arrangement.
"We would be open to the idea of having an owner," Cortezzo said. "But also there may be something (to the idea) that the players having to pay to play might create a sense of ownership for them and provides an incentive to do well."
The victory over the Gold was a come-from-behind effort. Trailing 1-0 early, the Sol tied it late in the first half and then scored two goals in the first 15-minute overtime via goals by Brenton Frame and Cory Taufer.