Orange County SC know their 2022 playoff quest is in major peril, and a 3-2 home loss to San Diego Loyal over the weekend was a blow.
In spite of Milan Iloski scoring a brace to take OCSC to a lead twice in the game, San Diego came back each time and grabbed a winner through Evan Conway in the 85th minute to take the win.
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In spite of a record regular season crowd at Championship Soccer Stadium, 5,177, and a Ukrainian culture celebration and fundraiser to support Ukraine in their ongoing war with Russia, plus Iloski taking the USL Championship Golden Boot lead with his goals in this game, as well as a USL Championship Team of the Week selection, it was still a somber outcome for Orange County SC.
“I’m disappointed to not get anything out of the game,” OCSC head coach Richard Chaplow said after the game. “San Diego is a good team I think, there is no doubt about that. You look at the league table and that shows, but we went toe to toe with them. We got ourselves in a winning position twice. And then to concede three at home, you can’t win football games if you concede three at home. So, it’s just difficult, really, it’s a difficult one to swallow really, because I think if you score two goals at home, you’d like to think you get three points or at least a point out of the game. But yet again we come away with nothing.”
With the loss, Orange County sit in the basement of the Western Conference, 10 points below the playoff line at present. There’s 12 games yet to play, but the runway is admittedly getting short.
Chaplow, who took over midseason last year and led OCSC to the league title, knows they’re fully up against it but they haven’t given up on this campaign yet.
“We have everything to play for and nothing to lose,” he explained. “So, in respect to our weekly focus as a group that will not change because we have  games to play and we need to focus on what’s in front of us, and not looking too far ahead. We are obviously out of the fight a little bit right now, trying to get ourselves back into it. So we have to give ourselves a fighting chance by everything we do on the training field Monday through Friday, everything we do off the field and that will be the same intensity and focus that we went into this game with. We don’t have a group of players that are going to give up, they go to the very end in every game regardless of sloppy goals or not.”
Orange County are back in action Saturday when they host the Colorado Springs Switchbacks, we’ll see if the surge takes off from there.
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