IRVINE, Calif. – Rob Kiernan scored the decisive goal late in the first half as Orange County SC pulled away late for a 3-0 victory against Las Vegas Lights FC on Saturday night at Championship Soccer Stadium to extend their undefeated streak to four games, solidifying the club’s place in the playoff positions in the Pacific Division.
The game opened slowly, and it wasn’t until the 17th minute that Las Vegas threatened first as Danny Trejo knifed through a pair of defenders and shot just wide of the left post from 20 yards. The hosts created their first good chance seven minutes later as OCSC leading scorer Ronaldo Damus controlled a pass near the top of the penalty area and curled a low shot to the right corner that was saved by Lights FC’s Alex Rando.
A better chance presented itself a minute later as Orange County moved forward and found Brian Iloski outside the penalty area, and he waited for Eric Calvillo to make an overlapping run into the penalty area where Iloski found him for a first-time shot that Rando just turned wide of the near post. Rando had to be sharp again in the 39th minute as a free kick by OCSC’s Mikko Kuningas redirected on goal off the header of a Las Vegas defender to force the goalkeeper into a diving save to avoid an own goal.
In first-half stoppage time the hosts found the breakthrough from another set piece, though, as Calvillo’s sent an inswinging delivering from the left side that found Kiernan near the top of the six-yard area for a flicked header into the right corner of the net. Damus almost added a second moments before the halftime whistle as he got in behind the back line and rounded Rando, but Lights FC defender Dylan Presto made a sliding block to keep the Haiti international’s goal-bound effort from finding the net.
Las Vegas was reduced to 10 men eight minutes into the second half as Mohamed Traore recieved his second yellow card of the game, and that allowed the hosts to get further on the front foot after the break. Damus set up a chance for Kuningas in the 57th minute as Orange County tried to pad its lead with the Finn’s low shot from 20 yards to the left corner being swallowed up by Rando. Sean Okoli was also denied as he found space for a turning shot after a long throw-in from the left bounced around in the Las Vegas penalty area, while in the 63rd minute the 2016 USL Championship MVP had another good effort as he turned his defender nicely with his first touch but couldn’t send his shot past the goalkeeper.
Orange County continued to push and with 17 minutes to go Damus navigated his way past two defenders to break into the right side of the penalty area but saw his shot find the outside of the side netting. As the game entered the final 10 minutes the hosts got their reward, first as Ben Mines was brought down by Rando for a penalty kick in the 83rd minute that saw Thomas Enevoldsen convert from the spot with his first goal since returning to the club with a powerful shot to the left corner.
A minute later Mines was denied his first goal in Orange County colors as Rando made a point-blank save to keep out his shot, but in the 89th minute Damus put the game beyond doubt with his 12th goal of the season as he was played in between two defenders by Enevoldsen and rounded the goalkeeper to the left before tucking his finish into the open net.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Ronaldo Damus, Orange County SC – Damus was a threat most of the night and got his goal with a minute to go to cap a performance that saw him record eight shots and win 10 of 19 duels.
OC – Rob Kiernan (Eric Calvillo) 45+3’
OC – Thomas Enevoldsen (Penalty Kick) 84’
OC – Ronaldo Damus (Thomas Enevoldsen) 89’