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Okoli scores winner at the death on Orange County SC’s banner night

Defending champs open home slate with dramatic victory.

Courtesy of Orange County SC

It took a second try, but two weeks into the 2022 USL Championship regular season Orange County SC have their first win and it was dramatic.

Sean “Ugo” Okoli came off the bench in the second half and scored a brace, including the winner in the 99th minute, as OCSC defeated Rio Grande Valley FC on Saturday at Championship Soccer Stadium in Irvine.

It was a banner night for Orange County in more ways than one, as the club unveiled the banner commemorating their 2021 league title before kickoff. A crowd of 5,061 was on hand for the 2022 home opener, the sixth-best attendance figure in club history.

They were in for a treat, as the game was hard-fought for the duration and the goals didn’t come until the 79th minute, after RGVFC’s Emilio Ycaza had been sent off about 15 minutes earlier for a second yellow card on the night.

Okoli came off the bench in the 71st minute for Erick “Cubo” Torres and the former USL Championship MVP got to work. His first goal came in the 79th minute, with a header off a corner kick.

But RGVFC didn’t give up, and the most mercurial striker in the USL Championship, Frank Lopez, scored the equalizer in the 86th minute to make it look like the teams would split the points.

From there, Rio Grande Valley tried to time-waste their way to the final whistle, but credit to the referee for putting seven minutes of extra time on the board and extending that with more stoppage time with more delays late on.

And then, Okoli came up with the winner at the death.

Credit to Okoli with the heroics and getting the ball in the back of the net, but also to OCSC for being patient on that final possession and circulating the ball logically before the winning goal was scored.

OCSC are now 1W-1L-0D on the young season and will next face New Mexico United, on the road, on Saturday.

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