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Orange County SC Wins 2021 USL Championship Final

December 1, 2021 - United Soccer League Championship (USL) - Orange County SC News Release


Orange County SC were crowned 2021 USL Championship Winners after defeating the Tampa Bay Rowdies, 3-1, in the USL Championship Final on Sunday, November 28 at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, FL. This is OCSC's first league title in club history.

OCSC, coached by former captain Richard Chaplow, used a Ronaldo Damus brace, Mikko Kuningas free kick goal and a Patrick Rakovsky penalty save to upset the back-to-back Eastern Conference Champions and win their ninth consecutive match.

Tampa Bay controlled the early portion of the game with long spells of possession trying to get behind OCSC's defensive line. Head coach Neill Collins's men did get inside the OCSC penalty area and drew a foul. Kevin Alston was called for the foul giving Tampa Bay the first chance to open the scoring. Tampa Bay forward Sebastian Guenzatti's spot kick was saved by Rakovsky and OCSC immediately cleared the ball out of play.

"It was pure luck, I looked forward, then to the right side and then he hit it at the perfect height for me, not too high, not too low," Rakovsky said. "I think for sure it was a key moment in the game."

The next 25 minutes for OCSC proved that Rakovsky's save was a turning point in this championship match. In the 25', Damus capitalized on a poor Tampa Bay pass in front of goal and slotted in his third goal in the playoffs. Over 10 minutes later, Damus was celebrating his second goal of the match after connecting on a Eric Calvillo cross. Tampa Bay were without the services of Evan Louro, who had just been named USL Goalkeeper of the Year, after suffering a knee injury.

Before the half time whistle, Calvillo drew a foul near the edge of the box and Mikko Kuningas scored off the direct free kick to put OCSC up 3-0.

"You always need a little luck and certainly we created it," Chaplow said. "Our back line, they were animals out there tonight and we expect that from them."

In the second half, OCSC saw out the victory by putting up defensive stops led by captain Michael Orozco, while pushing for more goals. The only blemish came in the 57' when Tampa Bay's Leo Fernandes pushed a ball past Rakovsky. It was just the second goal that OCSC conceded throughout this year's playoffs. Other than the lone goal, Rakovksy made six total saves during the match.

"I thought Pat [Rakovsky] did ok, but seriously, he's been a huge figure for us in the streak we are in," Chaplow said. "He's kept many clean sheets and does it surprise me when he makes these saves, absolutely not. We see them everyday and that's the quality keeper he is. I just wish we didn't have to see as many [saves] tonight."

Despite Tampa Bay's efforts to pull off another miraculous comeback, OCSC prevailed and the team swarmed together celebrating a season that was filled with both adversity and triumph.

Damus was named the USL Championship Final MVP after his two-goal performance which pushed his playoff total to four goals. It also added to his 18 goals overall throughout the season.

"I feel good because the dream was to win a championship with Orange County, but I feel much better now because I won the MVP," Damus said through an interpreter.

OCSC returns to Orange County with the biggest trophy in the league and a gold star above their crest.

"I couldn't be happier for the club and the organization," President of Soccer Operations Oliver Wyss said. "It's going to take time for this to actually sink in."

MATCH DETAILS

Orange County SC vs Tampa Bay Rowdies

2021 USL Championship Final

Date: November 28, 2021

Kickoff: 5:30 PM PST (8:30 PM EST)

Venue: Al Lang Stadium (St. Petersburg, FL)

SCORING SUMMARY:

25' Ronaldo Damus

38' Ronaldo Damus

45' Mikko Kuningas

57' Leo Fernandes

DISCIPLINE SUMMARY:

ORANGE COUNTY SC

90+2' Ben Mines

TAMPA BAY ROWDIES

16' Forrest Lasso

ORANGE COUNTY SC LINEUP:

Patrick Rakovsky (GK), Kevin Alston, Dillon Powers, Rob Kiernan, Michael Orozco (

C ), Brian Iloski (64' Seth Casiple), Ronaldo Damus, Thomas McCabe (70' Thomas Enevoldsen), Eric Calvillo, Brent Richards (71' Nate Smith), Mikko Kuningas (86' Ugo Okoli)

Unused subs: Abraham Romero (GK), Ben Mines, Kobi Henry

Head Coach: Richard Chaplow

Possession: 41.2% | Shots: 7 | Shots On Goal: 4 | Corners: 1 | Fouls: 11 | Offsides: 0 |

TAMPA BAY ROWDIES LINEUP:

Raiko Arozarena (GK), Forrest Lasso (72' Will Antley), Lewis Hilton, Jordan Scarlett (45' Dayonn Harris), Yann Ekra, Steevan Dos Santos (78' Jordan Abedayo-Smith), Leo Fernandes (61' Lucky Mkosana), Sebastian Guenzatti ( C ), Laurence Wyke (72' Jordan Doherty), Aaron Guillen, Sebastian Dalgaard

Unused subs: Ian McGrane (GK), Zach Steinberger

Head Coach: Neill Collins

Possession: 58.8% | Shots: 24 | Shots On Goal: 7 | Corners: 8 | Fouls: 16 | Offsides: 2 |


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