Refuse to lose

by Art Eftekhari

trailing temecula by two goals with time winding down, orange county fc once again show their resiliency to earn a 2-2 draw

Temecula, CA –Two months ago Orange County FC thrashed Temecula FC by a score of 6-1 and gave their fans plenty to cheer about in what was the perfect home opener for one of the NPSL’s newest clubs.

Over the weekend would be the second meeting of the two teams but this time things would be different in the wine country.

Led by former Scottish international Willie Donachie, Temecula have made huge improvements since the 6-1 defeat at the hands of OCFC. Donachie was known to be a tough defender in his days as a footballer and it’s clear to see that his swagger has rubbed off on his players.

Twenty-six minutes into the match it was Temecula that got on the board first courtesy of a goal scored by Enxhi Marina.

"We didn't play well at all in the first half," said captain Michael Bryant. "We weren't playing our style and we couldn't find a rhythm."

Five minutes after the restart Temecula increased their lead to 2-0 after a strike from Joseph Ciochetto.

In what seems to be a reoccurring story of this season, OCFC head coach Paul Caligiuri looked to his bench for the remedy.

Newcomer Daniel Crisostomo and striker Staforde Palmer came on for midfielders Armando Flores and Jonathan Romero at the start of the second half.

"We all knew we were going to score," said Bryant. "It was just a matter of playing our style and building up the attack which would lead to chances."

As minutes ticked away, the clock became the enemy of OCFC. The traveling supporters group known as the I-5 Army sat and wondered if they would finally suffer their first defeat.

Daniel Crisostomo struck first to cut the lead in half in the 80th minute.

"We got a lot of momentum when Daniel scored," said Bryant. "I kept telling the guys to keep pushing on, the second goal is coming."

The Temecula supporters were hoping for their team to park the bus and hold on for the win but four minutes later English striker Staforde Palmer scored the equalizer and the game was tied 2-2.

"We never give up," said midfielder Armando Flores. "Never underestimate OCFC."

OCFC wanted the win but they had to settle for a draw. After the match it was difficult for Michael Bryant to be happy with the result. 

"To be honest, it felt like a loss," said Bryant. "I am proud of the way we responded and came back to tie but we cannot focus on this match. It's in the past and we have to look forward to Saturday's match against Oxnard at home."

Paul Caligiuri’s men now have five wins and five draws on the season. OCFC are shooting for one of the two top spots in the conference in order to host a playoff game but if this streak of draws continue, hosting a playoff game will not be in the cards.