The 2017 NPSL season is winding down and Orange County FC continued their journey toward hosting a playoff game after a 2-0 win away from home against SoCal SC on June 18th. Staforde Palmer gave OCFC a 1-0 lead fourteen minutes into the match after receiving a pass from midfielder Tristan Weber.
In the previous meeting between the two teams it was OCFC that fell behind early, but this time head coach Paul Caligiuri started the match with tactical changes that paid off quickly.
“I wasn’t concerned about the bad start in our previous encounter with SoCal,” said Caligiuri. “I told the guys to play with confidence and we changed things up by starting three strikers up top. We wanted to be more offensive minded in the beginning.”
OCFC were in command throughout the match but captain Michael Bryant was subbed off late in the first half after picking up a yellow card. Bryant passed the captain armband to striker Alessandro Canale.
“I had some big shoes to fill literally because he wears bigger shoes than me,” said Canale. “It’s definitely a big responsibility to be wearing the armband because you want to be an example for the team and keep everyone up and keep everyone going.”
Canale led by example and his efforts in the 73rd minute created a turnover deep in SoCal territory. First, a shot from Canale was parried nicely by third string keeper Brandon Cardenas and eventually the ball came to Palmer and the English striker scored his ninth goal of the season to give OCFC a commanding 2-0 lead. Goalkeeper Brandon Gomez was solid in goal with the shutout and his backline of defenders were excellent.
“We are confident on the backline,” said Kevin Belmonte. “We are always communicating with Brandon and it feels great to leave with a shutout.”
The 2-0 win was great for OCFC but it was definitely a perfect day for Staforde Palmer, father of two children. “I’m delighted with the win,” said Palmer. “I got a goal for each of my children and as a striker it’s great to get on the scoresheet.”
Palmer leads OCFC in goals with nine and second leading scorer Connor Gordon was a late scratch but the depth of Orange County FC has carried them all season long.
“As a team we are very resilient,” said Palmer. “We are very structured, we know what we want to do, and we want to get as many points as we can before the playoffs.”
The win for OCFC puts them back into second place ahead of Riverside on goal difference but a home match with Albion SC PROS awaits on Saturday, June 24th.