Phoenix unable to rise to the occasion.
Irvine, Calif. - On a beautiful evening, Orange County SC welcomed Phoenix Rising FC to Championship Soccer Stadium for a rematch of last season’s Western Conference Championship hoping for a more positive result, and they started that way. Orange County dominated early possession giving Phoenix little hope or opportunity to score.
Attackers Harry Forrester and Vinicius started strong, looking quick and sharp. Vinicius set up Forrester in the 24th minute and OC looked certain to score, but the shot was blocked. Still, the team kept pushing forward.
Just moments later, OCSC scored their first of the night. Forrester beat his man in the box and was taken down for a penalty. There was no doubt who was going to take the shot. Aodhan Quinn stepped up and buried the shot to put the Orange and Black up a goal in the 28th minute.
Orange County held Phoenix to only just four shots in the first half, but the visitors were unable to make them count, only placing one on target.
The second half mimicked the first, with Orange County again playing on the front foot. Michael Seaton replaced Vinicius in the 57th minute and made an immediate impact on the game, pouncing on a loose ball in front of goal and scoring with just his third touch of the night, giving Orange County a two goal lead.
After the hour mark, Orange County began a defensive clinic. Owusu-Ansah Kontor backed up Patrick McLain with a goal line clearance to keep the lead at two. McLain then came up big in the 67th minute with a beautiful save to deny Phoenix a goal.
Phoenix striker Adam Jahn eventually scored off of a set piece to claw one back, but Orange County’s “never say die” attitude came through, and the team put in a resolved performance to deny Phoenix an equalizer.
Asked after the game, head coach Braedan Cloutier mentioned how important Vinicius has been to the team, especially after his first USL start. While Vinicius did not appear on the score sheet, Cloutier mentioned “he’s a young kid and he trains hard. Him putting pressure that was needed in the first half to soften them up. Our thought process was to wear Vinicius out and to bring Mike in later.”
Aodhan Quinn was pleased with the performance and recounted the night with “we had a great crowd out tonight, so it was awesome.” He continued, adding “I think we are back on track, and it’s going to be another great year.”
Orange County took an important three points to push their home win streak to 3 games. Orange County find themselves right back in the playoff picture in the 8th position. The next game is on the road against San Antonio on May 11th.
28’: Aodhan Quinn (Penalty)
57’: Michael Seaton (Darwin Jones)
70’: Adam Jahn (Jon Bakero)
26’: Kevon Lambert (Yellow)
33’: Kevin Alston (Yellow)
47: Adam Jahn (Yellow)
48’: Vinicius (Yellow)
63’: Harry Forrester (Yellow)
69’: Owusu-Ansah Kontor (Yellow)
79’: Darwin Jones (Yellow)
90+3’: Patrick McLain (Yellow)