Orange County SC defeated El Paso Locomotive FC 1-0 on Saturday, October 21 at Championship Stadium in Irvine, CA in the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2023 USL Championship Playoffs. Forward Milan Iloski’s first ever playoff goal was the difference between the two teams.
The home team came out swinging early, creating chaos in the box in the fifth minute. Defender Dillon Powers played a ball over the top to defender Ryan Doghman in the box. Doghman headed the ball over the keeper and was through on goal.
Doghman attempted to flick it up and over the defender in the open goal although it deflected off the head of an El Paso defender and hit the top crossbar before being swooped up by El Paso goalkeeper Benny Diaz.
The Black and Orange had another dangerous opportunity in the ninth minute as forward Thomas Amang drew a foul just outside the right side of the box. On the ensuing free kick, midfielder Kyle Scott sent in a cross towards captain Markus Nakkim. Nakkim connected with a header that went right to the goalkeeper.
El Paso had their first chance of the night in the 24th minute as the visiting team drew a foul just outside the left side of the penalty box. On the free kick, the ball was deflected and found its way to midfielder Eric Calvillo on the volley. Calvillo drove one towards goal, but it just missed to the right.
OCSC had an opportunistic chance on the right side of the pitch in the 25th minute as forward Bryce Jamison drew a foul outside the box. On the following free kick, Scott again sent one in towards Doghman who struck cleanly on the volley that narrowly went over the crossbar.
In the first minute of stoppage time, Milan Iloski hit a beauty of a free kick with his right foot into the bottom right corner of the net, giving OCSC the 1-0 advantage and sending The Champ into pure chaos.
The chilly Orange County air was tinted with the smell of orange powder at halftime, as the Black and Orange led 1-0 over El Paso with two shots on target to none for the visitors.
OCSC continued to attack coming out of the break as they drew a corner kick in the 48th minute. Midfielder Brian Iloski sent one towards Jamison in the box, who rose up over the defense and headed it towards the bottom left side of the goal. Diaz miraculously kept the Next Wave forward’s header out with a save at full stretch.
A steal by Milan Iloski in the attacking half posed another threat for OCSC in the 50th minute. Iloski took a couple touches on the left side of the box before firing a shot in with his right foot that just deflected off the keeper’s leg and wide of goal.
Amang attempted to light a spark in a rather dull second half in the 81st minute as he came up with a steal in the attacking half of the pitch. He took it himself, weaving through the defense before firing a powerful strike with his right foot to the right side of the goal that was deflected away by Diaz over the crossbar.
El Paso had a chance in the 88th minute as substitute midfielder Denys Kostyshyn launched one from way outside the box that missed wide right of the goalpost.
Things got chippy in the third minute of stoppage time as El Paso went with an open goal in a last minute ditch effort to tie the game. Milan Iloski found himself on a counterattack one-on-one at midfield with Diaz. Diaz slide tackled him from behind, earning an automatic red card ejection.
It was a tight battle until the finish, but in the end OCSC held on to a 1-0 victory, allowing zero shots on target in goalkeeper Colin Shutler’s 11th clean sheet of the season.
Orange County SC will host the Western Conference Semifinals next Saturday, October 28 at The Champ against the winner of the 3rd seed San Diego Loyal SC and 6th seed Phoenix Rising FC at 7:00 PM. Grab your tickets here.
MILESTONES AND FACTS:
Forward Milan Iloski scored his first ever USL Championship playoff goal (17th of the season) in his first USL Championship playoff appearance tonight.
Goalkeeper Colin Shutler recorded his 11th clean sheet of the season, and first of his USL Championship Playoff career.
Tonight marks the sixth straight Saturday sellout for OCSC with 5,500 fans in attendance.
45 +1’ Milan Iloski (OCSC)
ORANGE COUNTY SC
88’ Kyle Scott
EL PASO LOCOMOTIVE FC
29’ Noah Dollenmayer
58’ Emmanuel Sonupe
75’ Liam Rose
86’ Petar Petrovic
90’+3 Benny Diaz – RED
90’+7 Eric Calvillo
ORANGE COUNTY SC LINEUP:
Colin Shutler (GK); Ryan Doghman, Markus Nakkim (C), Dillon Powers, Owen Lambe (Brent Richards 90’); Seth Casiple, Brian Iloski (Andrew Fox 82’), Kyle Scott, Bryce Jamison (Kevin Lankford 64’); Thomas Amang, Milan Iloski
Unused subs: Eric Lopez (GK), Ashton Miles, Nico Ruiz, Alex Villanueva
Head Coach: Morten Karlsen
Possession: 55% | Shots: 14 | Shots On Goal: 6 | Corners: 7 | Fouls: 23 | Offsides: 2 |
EL PASO LOCOMOTIVE FC:
Benny Diaz (GK); Marc Navarro, Erik McCue, Noah Dollenmayer, Miles Lyons (Nick Hinds 59’); Petar Petrovic (Javier Garcia (GK) 90’+5), Liam Rose, Eric Calvillo (C), Chapa Herrera (Denys Kostyshyn 58’); Aaron Gomez (Chris Garcia 73’), Emmanuel Sonupe (Petur Knudsen 58’)
Unused subs: Yuma, Ricardo Zacarias
Head Coach: Brian Claraut
Possession: 45% | Shots: 4 | Shots On Goal: 0 | Corners: 2 | Fouls: 25 | Offsides: 1 |
Orange County SC vs. El Paso Locomotive FC
2023 USL Championship Playoffs | Western Conference Quarterfinals
Date: October 21, 2023
Venue: Championship Stadium (Irvine, CA)
Weather: Jammin’ to the second round…