IRVINE, Calif. - Orange County SC’s historical season has another first-time accomplishment: an appearance in the USL Western Conference Finals. On Saturday night, OCSC defeated Reno 1868 FC 1-0 at Championship Soccer Stadium in Irvine to move on to face Phoenix Rising FC for a spot in the USL Cup Final.
After scoring four goals against Saint Louis in the first round, Orange County relied on a lone score and solid defensive play. An interception in their attacking half allowed forward Michael Seaton to play the ball through to midfielder Aodhan Quinn, who was able to angle a shot past goalkeeper Matt Bersano for the lone goal of the match in the 29th minute goal.
Each side would have chances that seemed destined for the back of the net, only to roll wide or narrowly skim over the bar. After scoring a late winner to defeat Real Monarchs SLC last round, Reno continued to push numbers forward until the final whistle. But this time, there would be no last-minute goal and the 5th-seed was eliminated by a quality defensive performance by the hosts.
Uncharacteristically, Orange County held only 40% of possession and were less accurate in their passing, both categories they typically thrive in. But, it was a gritty performance on the defensive end against an inspired and quality Reno club that had run up an 8-game unbeaten streak until Saturday’s semi-final.
Up next. A much-anticipated heavyweight fight between Orange County and number-3 seed Rising FC to determine who wins the USL Western Conference and moves on to the USL Cup. The match will also feature the scheduled final appearance in Southern California by former Ivory Coast international and Chelsea legend, Didier Drogba, who has announced his professional retirement after the season. The clubs met three times in the regular season and the series split evenly, one win apiece and a draw to open the season. Phoenix defeated Swope Park Rangers 4-2 in their Western Conference semifinal.
The match will take place at Championship Soccer Stadium on Saturday, November 3rd with kickoff set for 7 PM. Tickets are available now at orangecountysoccer.com.
Darwin Jones completed 91% of his 23 passes.
Andre Rawls made two saves and came away with a postseason clean sheet.
Alex Crognale intercepted three passes, had eight clearances, and four tackles.
Jos Hooiveld tallied 15 clearances in the shutout.