Heartbreak for OCFC 2

by Art Eftekhari

ocfc 2 miss out on upsl fall nationals after tough loss to santa ana winds fc

Irvine, CA – It was a tough and physical game on Sunday night at Great Park and of course there was every reason for the game to be physical because OCFC 2 and Santa Ana Winds FC were playing for a spot in the UPSL National Playoffs.

Momentum would swing back and forth during the night on more than one occasion in what turned out to be a suspenseful match.

The showdown got started off perfectly for OCFC 2 as winger Cody Shelton put his team in the lead in the third minute of play.

It definitely was the perfect start but there was also plenty of soccer left to be played.

Santa Ana Winds showed why they were the hottest team in the UPSL by bringing pressure throughout the first half and came close to equalizing but OCFC 2 keeper Brent Reis made a fine diving save to keep his side in the lead.

Midway through the first half Santa Ana got on the board when Jorge Herrera blasted a shot from outside the penalty area that was too much for Reis to handle.

With the score tied at 1-1, Santa Ana Winds FC took the momentum into the interval.

Paul Caligiuri and assistant Cyrus Navabpour made adjustments at the half to try and slow down the Santa Ana midfield.

The speed of Kyle O’ Brien was a problem for OCFC throughout the night and things got worse in the 65th minute when striker Kramer Runager took advantage of a mistake in the OCFC penalty area and put his shot past Brent Reis to give Santa Ana Winds a 2-1 lead.

Keeper Brent Reis was replaced by Alonso Lara minutes later.

OCFC had its weapons available in defensive midfielder Michael Bryant, striker Alessandro Canale, and winger Dakota Collins but it was shaping up to be one of those nights where OCFC appeared to be out of sync.

But with ten minutes remaining, OCFC 2 was awarded a penalty kick after a hand ball.

Dakota Collins’ kick was saved by keeper Quinn Harter, but Collins was quick to head the rebound into the net to give OCFC 2 the crucial equalizer.

Tied up at 2-2 with time winding down, suddenly it was OCFC 2 playing with more momentum and making sure to feed the ball to Collins.

OCFC 2 was unable to find a late game winning goal and due to UPSL by-laws, there would be no extra time played.

Instead, this exciting match would be decided by penalties.

After five rounds of penalties, the score was tied 4-4. It was as if the fans in attendance at Great Park needed more suspense and more drama.

The fans definitely got more suspense and drama with the shootout going into sudden death.

With the score tied at 6-6, keeper Alonso Lara made an excellent save by diving to his right and suddenly OCFC 2 was a penalty away from booking a spot in the UPSL Fall National Championships.

But second half substitute Dante Romero saw his shot saved by Santa Ana Winds keeper Harter.

The momentum had turned, and Santa Ana Winds took a 7-6 lead after converting its next kick. Center back Josh Davis needed to score but his shot went over the bar and OCFC 2 was eliminated.

It was a tough loss to swallow and at times throughout the night it appeared as though OCFC 2 was not firing on all cylinders, but Dakota Collins was quick to credit Santa Ana afterward.

“Credit to Santa Ana for how they played,” Dakota Collins said. “They played a tough game and their movement in the midfield was really good.

Dakota Collins was one of the biggest bright spots for OCFC 2 in the UPSL as he scored thirteen goals overall, including the playoffs.

Coach Paul Caligiuri thanked his players after the game for having a successful season and the OCFC supporters remained in the stands to show their appreciation.

Despite the loss, OCFC had one last chant before leaving the field.

The season is over, but Orange County FC will continue to get stronger and give its fans plenty of reasons to cheer and get excited.

Thank you OCFC for another fun season of soccer.