OCFC defeat Riverside in 7-Goal Thriller!
orange county fc pulls off 4-3 victory despite playing majority of second half with ten men
Irvine, CA – It was labeled as an instant classic and surely the entire Orange County FC organization is still buzzing after the exciting 4-3 victory over Riverside Coras on April 29 at Championship Soccer Stadium.
“Good teams always find ways to win,” Orange County FC head coach Paul Caligiuri said. “Last night OCFC showed that never-say-die attitude despite all the challenges we faced to get three important points.”
OCFC was sitting pretty with a 3-1 lead after goals from Chris Gardea and a brace from Dakota Collins, but Riverside was determined to get its first win of the season and scored two goals to tie up the score at 3-3 going into the halftime locker room.
Changes were made and OCFC elected to go with keeper Bennett Sneddon over Brandon Gomez to start the second half.
Murphy’s Law was in full effect as Sneddon came out to no-man’s land to make a tackle and instead picked up a straight red card only minutes after Riverside tied the game at 3-3 through Santiago Warren.
Down to ten men and out of goalkeepers on the active roster, someone had to step up and it was only fitting that captain Michael Bryant decided to put on the goalkeeper shirt.
“I felt comfortable having played goalie up until my freshman year of high school and felt like I needed to step up and rise to the occasion,” Michael Bryant said.
“It was my choice, I went up to coach Caligiuri and told him I would play keeper and that we needed to bring Kevin Jeon off the bench to fill the midfield role.”
It was a wild game and starting keeper Brandon Gomez could only sit and watch from the sidelines.
“It was a horrible feeling,” Brandon Gomez said.
“Knowing that the guys were struggling and me not being able to do anything from the bench except cheer them on. Hats off to Michael Bryant though. He had a few big moments to keep us in the game.”
Prior to the game, OCFC got back reinforcements from last season in midfielder Connor Gordon and NPSL Co-Golden Boot winner Alessandro Canale.
Playing with ten men, it was assumed that OCFC would be trying to hold out for a tie.
But with time winding down, Dakota Collins found Canale and the dangerous striker scored the game winner in the 87th minute to give OCFC the 4-3 victory.
“It was amazing to get the game winner,” Alessandro Canale said. “It was something I was looking to do and I couldn’t have done it without the great pass and build-up from Mambo Flores and Dakota Collins.”
Canale just returned from overseas after a spell in Spain with CD Almunecar City and it definitely was the perfect return for one of OCFC’s best finishers.