TACOMA, Wash. – Tacoma Defiance got a standout goalkeeper display by Christian Herrera in the first half and a second-half hat trick from Samuel Adeniran to earn a 4-1 victory against Orange County SC on Saturday night at Cheney Stadium to catapult themselves back into the playoff race in the USL Championship’s Pacific Division.
The visitors had the better of the early going, but Tacoma created the first dangerous chance of the night as Danny Robles found space for a shot from 25 yards that deflected off teammate Alec Diaz in the penalty area and forced a sharp save by Orange County’s Abraham Romero at his left post.
Opportunities then began to arrive for Orange County, though, and Herrera had to make a pair of good saves to keep out first a low shot to the left corner by Tommy McCabe in the 20th minute before moments later having to tip a shot by Brent Richards over the crossbar after the right back cut inside to break onto a backheeled pass by Ronaldo Damus in the penalty area.
Richards had another chance four minutes later as he was kept out from a narrow angle by Herrera after being played into the right side of the box by Brian Iloski, while Sean Okoli and Damus each had chances in the following minutes that were also kept out as Herrera finished the first half with seven saves to keep the game level.
Having held Orange County at bay in the first half, Tacoma took the lead 28 seconds after the break as Adeniran intercepted a throw out by Romero 30 yards from goal. After taking a couple of touches to move forward, the Texan fired a blistering shot from the left channel in at the near post to capitalize on the mistake.
Adeniran went close to doubling the advantage three minutes later as Marlon Vargas picked him out with a low cross from the right to the left side of the penalty area, only for Romero to get down well to save. In the 52nd minute there was no mistake from the forward, though, as Danny Robles played a slide-rule pass to put Adeniran in behind the back line from where he lifted his finish over the advancing goalkeeper.
Orange County pulled a goal back on the hour-mark, though, as a long ball forward deflected off a defender’s head and came to Ben Mines in the right side of the penalty area, and the young forward controlled and delivered a low shot into the left corner of the net.
The Defiance had a chance to restore their two-goal advantage with 19 minutes to go but Alex Diaz was unable to steer his finish on target after Ray Serrano played a good ball into the penalty area from the right on a counterattack. The insurance goal arrived for Diaz in the final minute, though, as after both Tom Brewitt and Serrano had chances saved by Romero, the Puerto Rico international was on hand to put home the rebound from Serrano’s shot into the net.
Adeniran wasn’t done, though, and in the third minute of stoppage time he completed his first hat trick in the professional ranks. Obed Vargas triggered the play, playing Adeniran in for a chance to shoot on a quickly taken free kick the forward fired into the net, and that closed out the contest to break the Defiance’s recent run of defeats.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Samuel Adeniran, Tacoma Defiance – Adeniran’s goal 28 seconds into the second half sparked the hosts and he rounded out the night with a hat trick while recording four shots and three key passes overall.
TAC – Samuel Adeniran 46’
TAC – Samuel Adeniran (Danny Robles) 52’
OC – Ben Mines 60’
TAC – Alec Diaz 90’
TAC – Samuel Adeniran (Obed Vargas) 90+3’