Orange County SC won the second playoff game in club history and their first of the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs, as they defeated Saint Louis FC 4-0 at Orange County Great Park on Saturday night.
Michael Seaton was the star man on the night, scoring a hat trick and drawing an unlikely red card to keep the top seed in the Western Conference alive in their quest for the title.
Orange County got on the board just 11 minutes in, as Thomas Enevoldsen initiated a quick counter in midfield, and sent a pass up to Seaton, who made a wicked run to get past the defender, before stroking it past Saint Louis goalkeeper Tomas Gomez to make it 1-0.
Things got better for OC in the 21st minute, as Seaton fouled Tony Walls with a typical “forward foul” in midfield. Walls took exception and started yelling at Seaton, and then the ref, and after ignoring the ref’s initial admonishment, the referee pulled out a red card and ejected Walls for language. Considering the stakes in an elimination game, it was a shocking turn of events, but something Orange County would gladly take.
Seaton grabbed his second goal of the night in the 29th minute, with a towering header from Kevin Alston’s diagonal cross that went in the side netting.
Midway through the second half, OC goalkeeper Andre Rawls was involved in successive physical challenges with STLFC players, but he carried on and no opposing players were worse for the wear.
Seaton completed his hat trick in the 64th minute with a finish on the doorstep from Aodhan Quinn’s low cross. But there wasn’t even time to digest that, before a lovely team goal, scored a minute later by Mats Bjurman, featuring passes and tricks from Enevoldsen and Darwin Jones, was the cherry of sorts on a fantastic night for Orange County.
All in all, it was a dominant home win from the West’s top seed. Walls’ shock red card so early in the game certainly helped take Saint Louis out of it, but Orange County can hold their heads high with the style they played and the dominance they showed. This special season is not done quite yet.
Orange County will attempt to go deeper than ever before in team history in the postseason in their next game, as they will host Reno 1868 FC next Saturday at Orange County Great Park in the Western Conference Semifinal. The teams met just a week ago, with Reno grabbing a somewhat surprising 3-1 win in the regular season finale. Reno beat Real Monarchs in their playoff game on Saturday to advance — can Orange County get another win to keep their playoff run alive? If they play like they did against Saint Louis, they’ll like their chances.
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