UPSL Playoff Review: Santa Ana Winds FC vs Orange County FC

Santa Ana Winds FC and Orange County FC 2, coached by former US Men’s National Team player Paul Caligiuri, played to a 2-2 tie in regulation time in the UPSL playoffs, and went to penalty kicks where Winds FC won 6-5 at OC Great Park’s Championship Stadium on January 7, 2018.

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Santa Ana started sloppily, giving a ball away in their defensive end, which led to a takeaway by OCFC and an eventual chip and goal over the Winds FC keeper, Quinn Harter. It was 1-0 OCFC in the first 5 minutes.

Santa Ana adjusted however, and both sides exchanged shots throughout the first half, but Santa Ana slightly edged out OCFC in shots in the first half, one of these being a right-footed blast from distance by attacking midfielder Jorge Herrera in the 42nd minute to puts things even at 1 at the half.

The most obvious difference between both clubs was in Santa Ana’s ball control and individual creativity, that contributed to Winds FC winning the majority of possession. Such was the flow and momentum of the match in Santa Ana’s favor, that they eventually took the lead 2-1 in the 60th minute, on a left-footed shot by striker Kramer Runager, caused by Winds FC’s attacking pressure and a deflected shot by OCFC’s keeper. That was 2 unanswered goals to OCFC’s 1 in the very early stages of the match.

It would not be until the other bookend, in the 85th minute, with most of the momentum balanced towards Santa Ana, that a penalty kick was awarded to OCFC, deflating a Santa Ana side that looked to have a victory sealed up. The subsequent PK made it 2-2 and took the match to penalties.

With the game now up in the air, Winds FC captain Ezequiel Estrada stepped up to take the first shot and blasted it to his left and up but smacked it on the cross bar. OCFC then stepped up to take their first PK, but got denied by the Winds keeper, Quinn Harter.

Both clubs then matched each other kick for kick, until the OCFC keeper denied Winds FC. With the momentum in OCFC’s favor, Quinn Harter stepped up again to deny OCFC and give Santa Ana life. OCFC stepped up again to take what would be their last shot, but this time, the Winds keeper saw the OCFC shot fly over the crossbar.

Winds FC converted on the following kick to seal the victory 6-5 for Santa Ana. The win secured the Winds a spot in the UPSL National Finals, taking place on the weekend of January 13.

After the match, Winds FC Man of the Match Quinn Harter was heard exclaiming to his huddled, celebrating teammates, “We deserved that game!”

They most definitely did. But defensive lapses will make them suffer more “than they should,” to solve and close games with a win.

Next for Santa Ana Winds FC: UPSL National Quarterfinal versus Boise FC Cutthroats, January 13, 2018, 10:00 am PST, Lake Forest Sports Park.

Did you know?

The win was Santa Ana’s second in three matches with OCFC, one UPSL preseason match that went 4-3 to SNA, a 3-0 loss to OCFC in Week 1 of the 2017 UPSL Fall season, and this 6-5 UPSL playoff win for Winds FC.


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