Saturday evening was one to remember for OC fans as the club recorded a dominant performance and one of their biggest wins of the year. The match began just before sunset, and despite the glare Orange County looked well-organized in defense, withstanding some early counterattacks from Las Vegas and keeping possession.
After defending an early set-piece, Edwin Rivas was the first substitute for the Lights, coming off with an apparent head injury after 12 minutes.
OC then strung a few attacks together, coming close repeatedly, but the final touch towards goal eluded the hosts. Las Vegas also threatened: Rodolfo Zelaya put a shot past Aaron Cervantes, but the young goalkeeper was able to slow the ball and Joe Amico cleared the ball off the goal line. After the scare, the OC defense was resolute in closing down the Vegas offense, stifling any future opportunities for the visitors.
Orange County continued to dominate possession for the remainder of the half. Joe Amico was involved again, this time in the offense. He buried a shot past Thomas Olsen, but the fullback was flagged offside and both teams went into the break level.
The beginning of the second half was also the beginning of a succession of cautions, with Christian Duke, Junior Sandoval, and Harry Forrester all picking up bookings in the first 10 minutes of the half. It typified the brazen physicality of both teams in their search for three points.
Just over five minutes after the Lights’ second substitution, Jerry van Wolfgang and Michael Seaton combined for OC’s opener. van Wolfgang slotted a low pass to his left, which found Seaton just inside the box. The striker returned the pass, and the Dutchman took a signature shot from the penalty arc into the top right corner of the goal on 68 minutes.
Orange County did not relent, continuing to hold possession and force the visitors deep into their own half. OC attacks continued while Las Vegas struggled to counter and break up the match’s momentum. Eight minutes after the opener, Harry Forrester found Aodhan Quinn on the right flank. The midfielder was able to take two touches into space, putting the ball onto his left foot before striking a low shot into the bottom right corner from 25 yards.
Las Vegas’ struggles continued, and the side seemingly had no answer for OCSC’s continued attacking pressure.
The cherry on top came four minutes before full time. Aodhan Quinn gave the ball to Michael Seaton, who had dropped deep into the midfield. The striker began a run and found himself unchallenged by the visitors. He attempted a through ball to Darwin Jones, which Gabe Robinson intercepted but could not control. Continuing his run into the box, Seaton found himself with the space and time to round Dejan Jakovic and slot the ball home into the same corner as Aodhan Quinn had 10 minutes prior.
Just before full time, Junior Sandoval attempted a tackle at the edge of the Vegas penalty area, but failed to play the ball. Already cautioned, head official Elvis Osmanovic wasted no time in giving the Honduran his marching orders and the Lights finished out the remaining minutes with 10 men.
After the match, Braeden Cloutier spoke highly of his team’s efforts: “I couldn’t be happier for the guys. Training went well, preparation went well, the game plan was followed perfectly… we knew if we continued to do what we were doing, we would eventually get a goal. Everyone knew what was on the line, came in, worked hard all week and followed the plan to completion.”
Michael Seaton was also pleased with how Orange County prepared to take on the Lights again. “Darwin [Jones] and I just tried to be consistent on our runs all night because we knew we could punish them. We knew we had to keep our heads and not get too frustrated. We kept our composure and came through with the win.”
Orange County moves up one spot into 13th place, just three points out of 8th place with a game in hand. OC returns to action next Saturday, taking on Real Monarchs for Military Appreciation Night at Championship Stadium at the Orange County Great Park.
68’: Jerry van Wolfgang (Michael Seaton)
76’: Aodhan Quinn (Harry Forrester)
86’: Michael Seaton
12’: Joe Amico (yellow)
46’: Christian Duke (yellow)
49’: Junior Sandoval (yellow)
56’: Harry Forrester (yellow)
89’: Junior Sandoval (second yellow, red)