NC Battalion opened up the third match of their fall campaign back at Del Norte Stadium to face US Open Cup challenger Orange County FC on Sunday. After a tough loss in last week’s charity exhibition match to the San Diego Sockers, Battalion was looking to get back on track.
The visiting OCFC, however, had other plans in mind. In the early minutes of the match, OCFC center forward Castro slipped past his markers and took a menacing shot on goalkeeper James Stroud. Stroud was up to the task and stretched a big left hand to save the shot. From there, NCB took the game to Orange County FC and were rewarded in the 30th minute. Joe Shah and Captain Eric Lopez combined down the center of the field with a neat exchange of passes. Lopez then volleyed it home for the first goal of the contest.
From there, things soured for the men in black. Orange County FC struck just prior to halftime with a wonder-goal from left-back Ezekiel Estrada. He found some space 30 yards from goal and struck a perfect shot that sailed into the top right corner.
The second half was more promising for the Battalion boys. Applying consistent pressure as they looked for the winner, chances kept coming to seize the game. However, it wasn’t to be. The dangerous Castro latched onto a long ball with some space to get forward. He struck a well-driven shot from 25 yards out and was able to find the top corner giving the visitors a 2-1 lead in the the 63rd minute.
Battalion continued to mount pressure and looked to create more opportunities, but weren’t able to break down the organized defense. The match ended with a final score of 2-1 in favor of Orange County FC. This Sunday, the Battalion will square off against another NPSL playoff contender from the Golden Gate Conference. Check out the match versus East Bay FC Stompers at Del Norte Stadium. Kickoff is set for 12:20pm.