OCFC Leave High Desert with 3 Points [Video]

by Art Eftekhari

orange county fc grind out victory against high desert elite fc

Adelanto, CA – It was a windy night in the high desert at Adelanto Stadium on May 25.

Despite going up against the last-placed team in the NPSL Southwest, the OCFC players had a feeling they were in for a tough match against High Desert Elite FC due to the weather and field dimensions.

But OCFC got off to a good start and easily was the better team immediately after the kickoff. Twelve minutes into the match, OCFC took the lead on a beautifully executed set piece.

Argentinian midfielder Francisco Bello’s free kick sailed high with the wind and was headed into the penalty area by right back Kevin Belmonte.

The ball went towards Aaron Lombardi and the Argentinian left back’s header sailed past a diving Aaron Ibarra to give OCFC a 1-0 lead.

OCFC kept up the pressure and nearly doubled the lead minutes later when a cross from Lombardi was headed by Belmonte in the High Desert penalty area.

But Ibarra made a fantastic reflex save to deny Belmonte his first goal of the season.

OCFC continued to dominate possession and was unlucky when a shot from Bello deflected off the post as the home side dodged another bullet.

But things changed in the latter part of the first half as High Desert took over by creating more scoring chances and pressuring the OCFC midfield.

Midfielder Sebastian Nolasco nearly tied the game with a nice run down the left flank, but his shot went wide.

French striker Amine Mouri came dangerously close to scoring the equalizer when his header off an Omar Matute corner kick went agonizingly wide.

The home supporters were excited because they felt the equalizer was coming and the stage was set for an intense second half.

Both teams made changes at the interval and the intensity picked up in the second half as both teams also increased the physical play.

Yet both defenses were stout and did a good job of preventing dangerous scoring opportunities.

Ten minutes remained in the match when second half substitute Joshua Bynoe was brought down in the penalty area.

Bynoe took the penalty himself but saw his kick saved by Ibarra as the High Desert keeper continued to be on top form.

High Desert Elite was playing with plenty of confidence but was still unable to find the equalizer as OCFC center backs Ryan Holland and Joshua Davis did a great job of blocking shots and making life miserable for the opposing attackers.

Finally, in the 87th minute, Jonny Romero was able to shake off the pressure from midfielder Daniel Baumgartner and found Cody Shelton on the right flank.

Shelton’s cross deflected off defender Daniel Lopez and Joshua Bynoe made amends for his earlier miss from the penalty spot and tapped in the ball to give OCFC a 2-0 lead.

High Desert Elite refused to accept the two-goal loss and the pressure was rewarded in stoppage time when an inadvertent hand ball from Eder Arreola led to a penalty kick.

The home supporters were ready to erupt but Omar Matute’s kick was brilliantly saved by a diving David Preys to preserve the clean sheet and 2-0 victory.

It may not have been the best match of the season for OCFC. But it was a dogfight on a windy night and the job was done as OCFC came away with three points to earn its ninth win of the season.