Orange County SC may not have been as familiar with their last playoff opponent, but they were very familiar with the Oakland Roots. Having played four times over the course of the regular season, OCSC held the clear advantage, winning all four meetings. All but one, have been decided by just a goal, with the outlier a 3-0 victory for OCSC.
This time though, they would play for keeps. With a spot in the USL Western Conference Finals on the line, the regular season records went out the window. To the surprise of nobody, the first half ended not just level, but scoreless. OCSC did well to not concede, as it was the visitors who were able to get off more shots, but both sides only saw one clear chance each, for the half.
OCSC did better to create more opportunities in the second half, adding a handful of shots to their tally, and nearly finding the winner late. If there was one match that you had to guess would go to extra time, it was this one. It didn't disappoint, as the final whistle blew on regulation, with both sides still level at 0-0.
Even 30 minutes of extra time wasn't enough to separate the two sides. The match went all the way to penalties to determine the winner, and San Antonio’s opponent for the Western Conference Finals. After several rounds of makes, Oakland Roots’ Akeem Ward missed his chance, opening the door for OCSC to advance. A week after a crucial late-half goal to overcome a tough Colorado Springs side, while a man down, Ronaldo Damus came up big once again. Stepping up to the spot, and calmly sending his team the Conference Finals.
With that win, OCSC reach the Conference Finals for just the second time in club history. They will host San Antonio next Sunday, November 21. This will also mark the first time these two teams have seen one another, since all the way back in 2019. With seven straight wins under their belt, OCSC will surely come into this one with all the confidence in the world, as they look to reach their first ever USL Championship Finals match, but first, San Antonio.
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