OCFC Pull Off Upset in Orange County Derby!

by Art Eftekhari

orange county fc defeats ocsc in dramatic fashion to advance to third round of u.s. open cup

Irvine, CA – It was a long-anticipated match between Orange County FC of the NPSL and Orange County SC of the USL Championship and it was only fitting that the two clubs with similar names met in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at a place both teams call home: Championship Soccer Stadium.

Supporters of both clubs were looking forward to an entertaining match and the first edition of the Orange County Derby did not disappoint as it had plenty of action, physical play, and drama.

Right from the start, it was clear that OCFC would not be pushed around by OCSC as both teams looked to establish control.

But things did not start well for the underdogs when a dangerous ball sent into the OCFC penalty area by Aodhan Quinn in the thirteenth minute was accidentally headed into the net past keeper David Preys to give Orange County SC a 1-0 lead.

OCFC center back Joshua Davis got his head on the ball in hopes of keeping the ball out of danger. But instead the ball went into the net for an own goal.

Davis was face-down on the ground for a few moments, but the OCFC players knew there was plenty of time to fight back.

Fourteen minutes later a counterattack was started by center back Ryan Holland with the ball making its way to striker Blake Frischknecht.

Frischknecht used his dribbling skills to get the ball to Joshua Bynoe and the English midfielder fired a left-footed shot.

OCSC keeper Aaron Cervantes parried Bynoe’s shot but the rebound was knocked in by Dakota Collins to level the score at 1-1 as the OCFC supporters erupted.

Orange County SC would keep up the pressure and both sides traded opportunities and tempers started to flare when OCFC left back Aaron Lombardi got into a scuffle with forward Darwin Jones.

With the score tied 1-1 at the half, the stage was set for an entertaining second half at Championship Soccer Stadium.

OCSC continued to control possession in the second half and pressed for the go-ahead goal.

Many opportunities would come but OCFC keeper David Preys was phenomenal making save after save to keep his team in the match.

Later in the second half, it appeared that OCSC had taken a 2-1 lead off a corner kick. But the goal was disallowed because due to offside.

The OCFC fans were optimistic yet nervous at the same as they watched their footballers defend like there was no tomorrow as OCSC continued to press and create more scoring opportunities.

Defenders Ryan Holland and Joshua Davis sacrificed their bodies on more than one occasion and both players were in the right place at the right time to clear shots off the line as the score remained 1-1 with time winding down.

But in the 87th minute the go-ahead goal would finally come for Orange County SC when Darwin Jones’ shot from the right beat Preys and bounced off the cross bar and over the goal line to give his side a 2-1 lead.

Three minutes of stoppage time were added and OCFC pushed everyone up the field as they looked for the late equalizer.

The pressure paid off as Orange County FC earned a corner kick.

Aaron Lombardi placed the ball perfectly into the OCSC penalty area and center back Ryan Holland headed the ball past Cervantes to tie the score at 2-2 in the 92nd minute, sending the OCFC fans into raptures.

The match went into extra time and OCSC continued to create more chances.

But no goals would be scored in the two fifteen-minute halves of extra time as the first-ever Orange County Derby would be decided by a penalty shootout.

Eder Arreola of OCFC scored the first penalty and was unphased by Cervantes’ psychological games prior to the kick.

Aodhan Quinn stepped up to take the first kick for OCSC, but his shot was saved by a diving David Preys as OCFC held the early advantage after one round of penalties.

Dakota Collins scored next for OCFC, but Harry Forrester answered for OCSC.

Midfielder Daniel ten Bosch put his penalty past Cervantes as OCFC remained perfect from the penalty spot.

Giovanni Ramos-Godoy nearly saw his shot saved as the ball deflected off Preys’ hand and into the net.

Left back Aaron Lombardi placed his shot perfectly into the low corner of the net. The OCFC fans could feel it, they were almost there.

Liam Trotter scored from the spot as the score was 4-3 in favor of OCFC going into the final round of penalties.

Cody Shelton walked to the penalty spot as fans of both teams eagerly awaited.

Just like his teammates, Shelton showed no signs of nervousness and scored the final penalty as OCFC won 5-3 on penalties to advance to the Third Round of the 2019 U.S. Open Cup.

OCFC fans and players stormed the field to celebrate the amazing victory.

"I am super proud of the entire OCFC team, from the non-rostered players to the starters and heroes of the game," Orange County FC Head Coach Paul Caligiuri said.

"Our culture at OCFC far extends past the playing field and our fans feel it. The victory was a great way to launch the OC Derby. I am super grateful that OCFC Owner Nader Dejbakhsh has given me this opportunity to coach this great group of players and has trusted in my work. This win is a giant step forward for the future of Orange County FC."

It was an epic match and it was a night that will never be forgotten.

OCSC had more scoring opportunities throughout the night. Yet the OCFC players refused to lose and displayed a flawless team performance.

Nobody knows when OCFC and OCSC will cross paths again. 

But everyone knows that Orange County FC has earned the bragging rights as winners of the Orange County Derby.