The objective for OCFC was simple entering Saturday night’s game against City of Angels: win and clinch a home playoff match.
It didn’t take long for OCFC to secure a victory, especially after scoring seven goals in the first half. Four of them were scored by Alessandro Canale, the man who was trying to secure the 2017 NPSL Golden Boot. Canale scored two minutes into the match and he gave OCFC a 2-0 lead fifteen minutes later. Both goals were created by the excellent passing of center midfielder Armando “Mambo” Flores.
“Mambo brings professionalism to the game,” said Canale. “He is a trooper and a true soldier on the field.”
In the 24th minute Canale provided the perfect pass to Alexander Ferreira and the right back beat keeper/head coach Tyrone DeNeal at the near post to give OCFC a 3-0 lead.
About ten minutes remained in the first half when Flores took advantage of a giveaway in the midfield and sent a pass to Canale near the right side of the City of Angels penalty area. Canale found Staforde Palmer and the striker fired his shot into an open net to give OCFC a 4-0 lead.
Four minutes later Canale scored his third of the game when he received a long ball from midfielder Andrew Hernandez. Canale calmly dribbled around DeNeal and placed the ball into the open net and OCFC led 5-0. In the 41st minute Hernandez started a move from the right side of the field and sent a pass across the field to Canale. The dangerous striker half-volleyed a pass to Palmer and the Englishman made the score 6-0 by putting the ball between the legs of DeNeal.
The final whistle of the first half was approaching but OCFC were awarded a penalty after Tristan Weber was brought down in the City of Angels penalty area. It came as no surprise that Alessandro Canale took the kick from the penalty spot but the actions on the field said it all as midfielder Daniel Crisostomo could be seen grabbing the ball and handing it to teammate Canale. DeNeal guessed right but Canale’s penalty was placed perfectly and OCFC took a 7-0 lead into the halftime locker room.
Canale was flawless as he was involved in every goal in the first half with four goals and three assists.
The I-5 Army and the rest of the OCFC supporters were expecting a similar performance in the second half but it took twenty minutes for the home side to extend the lead to 8-0 as Crisostomo broke through the City of Angels defense and fired a shot past DeNeal after an excellent run.
Three minutes later Palmer completed his hat-trick and made the score 9-0 after connecting on a pass from Daniel Yo.
In the 80th minute it was Jose “Chila” Montes who made the score 10-0 as OCFC reached double digits for the second consecutive match. Crisostomo provided the perfect through ball and the speed of Montes was too much for City of Angels as the shifty striker put his shot past DeNeal.
Seven minutes later Canale finally scored his long awaited fifth goal of the match after connecting on a pass from right back Ignacio Ramirez.
Canale scored five goals in one game for the second week in a row and captain Micheal Bryant was quick to praise the Man of the Match.
“To score that many goals in two games is impressive,” said Bryant. “He is on fire, he is the hottest player in the NPSL right now, and we hope he takes us all the way.”
The OCFC fans could only ask themselves one question: What has gotten into Alessandro Canale?
“The last few weeks we have really started to gel,” said Canale. “We have become more comfortable with each other. We are playing with a lot of confidence. I am hoping we can continue to play this way and carry it into the postseason.”
Over one week ago there were talks about OCFC finding their dynamic duo in Canale and Hernandez. Canale finished the season with eighteen goals and six of those were assisted by Hernandez.
Although OCFC did not win the Southwest Conference, Hernandez is feeling upbeat after contributing seven assists in the final two dominant wins of the season.
“We are confident and ready for the playoffs. We can take on the whole West Coast.”