In their first game of the season, Orange County managed to find a way to make a draw feel like a win by roaring back to a well fought 2-2 final on the road against Reno 1868 FC. In a game that was largely dominated offensively by Reno, OC did very well defensively, especially in the first half where they held Reno at bay for long periods of time.
In the first half Reno had some offensive chances early on putting balls into the Orange County 18 yard box, but the defenders held their ground and calmly and methodically kept Reno from any quality chances. Aodhan Quinn had a great free kick in the 11th minute that was deflected toward goal but Reno goalie J.T. Marcinkowski was able to corral the ball.
Reno had a lot of the first half possession and in the 23rd minute, Reno got within inches of going ahead when a ball came out to Sam Gleadle, who hit a screamer of a shot just high and wide of the right corner. In the 33rd minute, Reno again came very close to scoring this time on a pass from Lindo Mfeka to Gleadle that forced new OC Goalie Carlos Lopez to storm off of his line and tackle the ball away before Gleadle could chip it in for a goal.
Orange County had a chance of their own in the 35th minute when Harry Forrester took a great pass in from Jerry van Wolfgang and back heeled it toward the Reno net, but it was blocked. Godoy finished the sequence by putting a shot high and wide.
In the 40th minute Reno’s Seth Caspile was booked for a late tackle on van Wolfgang. The half ended without either team finding a way through and Orange County seemed content to go to the half tied at 0-0 given the amount of possession Reno controlled.
In second half Orange County escaped a disaster when goalie Lopez misplayed a ball that sent Reno’s Brian Brown into the box alone, but he put his shot high over the cross bar which kept the game scoreless.
The game started to get more physical and Orange County saw a pair of cautions; one in the 55th minute on Charlie Adams for dragging down Mfeka and another in the 60th minute on Harry Forrester for a late tackle on Zach Carroll.
Reno continued to probe for their first goal and almost got close in the 62nd minute with Brian Brown shooting wide right after a pass from Brent Richards. Although OC escaped that chance they didn’t in the 63rd minute. A Mfeka cross was headed up in the air by Godoy, but was chested down by Reno’s Brown, and as he fought off several OC defenders, beat Carlos Lopez near post to put Reno up 1-0.
In the 66th minute, a bad Reno turn over put Michael Seaton in toward goal with a chance to tie, but he put the ball wide right. Unfortunately, two minutes later a cross in by Reno’s Gleadle found it’s way to Brown who touched it out toward Mfeka who put it on goal where Lopez got a touch to it, but it too strong and put Reno up 2-0.
After several substitutions that brought Darwin Jones on for Harry Forrester in the 69th minute and Corey Hertzog on for Daniel Musovski for Reno in the 71st minute, the game opened up and it looked as if OC was playing much more aggressively with Jones putting a great strike on goal, beating Marcinkowski, but it hit the woodwork.
The 77th minute was the turning point Orange County needed as a very bad back pass from Reno sent Michael Seaton in on goal where he got Marcinkowski to dive the wrong way and score OC’s first goal of the 2019 season.
Another yellow card came out in the 82nd minute, this time for a tackle by Raul Mediola on Charlie Adams. Adams was then subbed off in the 86th minute for Koji Hashimoto. A few minutes later, in the 89th minute, OC Goalie Carlos Lopez took a beautiful free kick right into the Reno 18 yard box where Aodhan Quinn’s ankles were grabbed by Reno’s goalie which brought him down and drew an immediate penalty call. Quinn stepped up, sent Marcinkowski the wrong way, and tied the game at 2.
Orange County had to survive one last gasp from Reno in stoppage time, but the defense held and they got a much deserved and important point from Reno on the road.
Orange County’s next game will be their home opener against the Tulsa Roughnecks at 7:00 pm. at the Championship Soccer Stadium in Irvine, California.