09 Jul Match Recap: NPSL Playoffs ASC vs. OCFC – July 7th, 2018
July 7th, 2018 – On an idyllic night in San Diego last Saturday, the stands were packed as ASC faced off against OCFC for the third time this season. Having lost both previous matchups, but posting a better overall season record, ASC earned home field advantage and was slightly favored heading into the match. This was destined to be a hard-fought battle, with both teams looking to put a stamp on their regular season finish, and continue their journey towards the NPSL National Championship. In the end, it a bitter pill to swallow for ASC, as Ziggy’s Squad lost a heartbreaker to Paul Caliguiri’s Orange County FC, with a final score of 1-3. It was a close contest from the opening whistle, and the action never let up.
Feeling out the opposition…
Both squads began the match jostling for position, probing for weaknesses, and attempting to counterpunch with long downfield passes. For their third meeting of the year, both teams sought out any edge they could, presenting their opponents with a different look – new player lineups and tactical formations. Just like the previous games, ASC versus OCFC turned out to be another NPSL classic.
The score was deadlocked throughout the first half, with ASC’s Aleks Berkolds taking the best chance in the half from a set piece delivered by Luis Cardona. Berkolds won the jump ball, but his header the veered just inches wide from the net. Despite the loss, ASC goalie Jean Antoine was a consistent force throughout the match, making several dramatic saves and distributing the ball well on the counterattack. He kept a clean sheet though the first half, and the teams went into the locker room with the score locked at 0-0.
After feeling out their opponents in the first half, both teams came out in the 2nd fierce and ready to play. From the opening whistle, both teams set up some great chances. First it was Jose Montes De Oca with a brilliant solo run, but his shot glanced off the near post and fell harmlessly out of bounds. ASC countered quickly and got the ball to the striker, Amani Walker in front of the OCFC net, but like his counterpart on the other end of the field, scuffed his shot high over the crossbar.
Never one to be turned away easily, a tenacious Walker found redemption on the very next attack. ASC midfielder Dallin Cutler played the ball back to defenseman Kuba Waligorski. Kuba controlled the ball and played it back up to a streaking Sergio Enriquez. Enriquez caught the ball in stride, dribbled past the OC midfield, and played the ball up to Walker, who slipped neatly past the defense to set up 1-on-1 with the goal. Walker kept his composure and calmly struck the ball low into the far corner away from the keeper’s reach. Mission Bay Stadium erupted as Korytoski’s team struck first!
The lead was short lived as OCFC responded quickly. Jose Montes De Oca sought his own redemption, and made up for his earlier miss as his shot from outside of the box took a wicked deflection and sailed past Jean Antoine. Seconds later, OCFC were awarded a penalty shot which off by Daniel Crisostomo, giving them a 2-1 advantage. It was an exciting sequence, but in the end, OCFC got the better of it, and Ziggy’s side was left to regroup.
ASC San Diego showed character as they poured on the pressure, attacking OCFC relentlessly. ASC, won a penalty shot of their own, as the referee called a hand ball in the box against the OCFC defender. Amani Walker stepped up to take the PK, but Gomez guessed right and made spectacular kick save.
Sadly, it was not to be ASC’s night, as OCFC put the final nail in the coffin in the 84th minute as Dakota Collins finished off a great scoring drive to give Orange County the two goal edge.
Onward and up…
ASC San Diego’s season comes to an end, as OCFC move on in the playoffs. A disappointing result to be sure, but ASC truly left it all out on the field and heads into the offseason with heads held high. The San Diego club has much to be proud of – a spectacular regular season, with a growing chemistry and dynamism they’ll continue to build on.. They finished first in a competitive Southwest Conference Division, and have qualified for the 2019 U.S. Open Cup.
Look for more exciting news and announcements, as ASC heads into the offseason. To stay up-to-date with all upcoming events, tournaments, and opportunities to meet the players, stay tuned to this blog, and subscribe to our newsletter.