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Down to Earth: Reno 1868 3, Orange County SC 1

High-flying OC ends regular season on down note.

Enevoldsen hit a milestone in scoring, but that was the main highlight.
Courtesy of Orange County SC.

Thomas Enevoldsen scored his 20th goal of the season, but Orange County SC closed out their 2018 USL regular season slate on a disappointing note, as they fell 3-1 to Reno 1868 FC on the road in Reno on Saturday night.

It was a difficult night for OC, who never seemed to really get a grasp on the game. After Reno took a fairly early lead, they never relinquished it, and Orange County’s six-game unbeaten run was snapped just before the start of the USL Cup Playoffs.

Kevin Alston was forced out of the game in just the 11th minute due to an apparent injury, and Noah Powder replaced him in the Orange County defense.

Brenton Griffiths put Reno on the board in the 15th minute, as he connected with a fellow former Orange County player, Jerry van Ewijk, with a header off a corner kick.

A rough slip and fall away from contact for Reno’s Lindo Mfeka led to the player being carried off the field shortly before halftime, and was replaced by Mark Gonzalez.

Reno added to their lead in the 44th minute, as van Ewijk’s shot bounced off the post, with Antoine Hoppenot pouncing on the rebound to slot it in.

Orange County almost scored just after the halftime break, but they had to wait until the 58th minute for their breakthrough, as Enevoldsen rifled in a goal to give the visiting team hope and cutting the deficit to one.

But Hoppenot grabbed his second goal of the game on a breakaway in the 62nd minute, as Alex Crognale’s backpass was intercepted by the striker and he made no mistake.

Orange County faded down the stretch, unable to mount a late rally that has become a trademark this season. Whether it was down to the altitude, fatigue, the chilly weather, a bad matchup, or something else is not clear. Whatever it was, it was a tough night for OC, and they couldn’t guarantee a first-place finish in this game, instead having to see how Phoenix Rising FC finishes their season on Saturday against Portland Timbers 2 to see if Orange County will have home-field advantage through the Western half of the playoff bracket.

On one hand, taking a loss in the season finale is a blow, and cause for some concern. On the other hand, if they were to lose, they could afford to do that tonight. From now on in 2018, their next loss will end their season, so hopefully this is a wake-up call, and Orange County SC come out hungry and focused when the playoffs begin in a week.

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