The Orange County Blues moved much closer to a playoff berth on Saturday at Anteater Stadium, as they defeated LA Galaxy II 2-1, their first ever win over their local rivals. Goals by Ariel Lassiter and Brenton Griffiths left the game even until the final minute of regulation, before Christofer Ramirez came off the bench to grab the winner for the Blues.
Pepe Miranda came up with a big save on Ignacio Maganto's shot in the fourth minute, pushing the MLS rookie's shot over the crossbar.
The Blues put themselves in a hole early in the game, as Luka Petricevic conceded a penalty by bringing down Jack McBean in the box, and Lassiter buried the PK in the 13th minute.
Galaxy II goalkeeper Clement Diop stepped up to preserve his side's lead in the 25th minute, as Chris Cortez sent a pass forward as Christopher Santana was taking a run, and Santana's shot was blocked. Cortez's follow-up was subsequently caught by Diop, and Miranda was forced to make a save on Lassiter seconds later off a Galaxy II counterattack.
The Blues got the equalizer in the 33rd minute courtesy of Griffiths, who got separation off a corner kick by Santana and headed the ball past Diop.
The Blues nearly had a go-ahead tally just before halftime, as a chipped attempt by David Estrada bounced off the crossbar and was eventually cleared by LA. Cortez then came close a few minutes after halftime, as a beautifully sliced corner kick by Santana was headed just wide of the goal.
Slager then had a chance of his own in the 60th minute, but his breakaway was blocked by Diop, before Lassiter once again had a chance of his own, with Miranda up to the test to keep the score level.
Raul Mendiola had a chance to give the Galaxy II the lead in the 73rd minute, but his free kick bounced off the crossbar.
Second-half sub Ramirez grabbed the winner in the 90th minute, as he slotted home the cross from Estrada to beat Diop.
Obviously, it was a great result and a good reward for a well-played game by Orange County, their best performance this season against Galaxy II by a long shot. And they'll be riding high coming into their next game, on the road Friday against Seattle Sounders 2, a match that is definitely going to be another challenge. That said, by the time the weekend's result shake out, the Blues will at least be within a point of qualifying for the playoffs, if not actually in. And beating the local rival for the first time isn't too bad, either.
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