Photo courtesy David Calvert / Reno 1868 FC
RENO, Nev. – OKC Energy FC goalkeeper C.J. Cochran recorded a five-save shutout as Wojciech Wojcik’s goal proved enough to send No. 6-seed Energy FC to a 1-0 victory against No. 3-seed Reno 1868 FC in the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs at Greater Nevada Field on Saturday night. Energy FC threatened inside the opening minute as a good header by Jose Angulo in the 1868 FC penalty area set up Wojcik for a headed finish that Reno goalkeeper Matt Bersano got down well to deny. Brian Brown had the first good chance for Reno in the 13th minute when his turning shot was turned away by OKC goalkeeper C.J. Cochran, but from there the visitors began to have the better of the contest. Energy FC almost took the lead in the 34th minute when Anthony Wallace’s cross saw Wojcik put a header on target, but seven minutes later the big Polish forward gave OKC the lead as his rifled shot from 25 yards picked out the top-left corner. Reno brought on USL Golden Boot-winner Dane Kelly at halftime, and Kelly came close to leveling in the 57th minute with a low shot that was saved by Cochran. A minute later 1868 FC center back Jimmy Ockford just headed wide off a floated ball into the penalty area by Luis Felipe Fernandes. Energy FC’s Cochran was again called into action by Fernandes on the hour-mark as he palmed away a low shot to the left corner, keeping the visitors ahead. Energy FC got a big chance to put the game away late when Ockford slipped, allowing OKC’s Andy Craven to move in on goal, only for Jordan Murrell’s last-gasp challenge to deny the chance. Reno almost found an equalizer with three minutes to go as Brown cut past two defenders, only to have his low shot was denied by Cochran. Reno’s Junior Burgos had one final chance in stoppage time, only for his free kick to be parried wide as Cochran came through one final time to send Energy FC through.
41’ – OKC – Wojciech Wojcik (Miguel Gonzalez)
Three Things That Matter:
1. For a second consecutive season, OKC Energy FC went on the road in the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the USL Cup Playoffs and produced an upset victory as the club’s late-season momentum carried the visitors to victory at Greater Nevada Field. On Saturday night, the late dramatics of last year’s victory against Rio Grande Valley FC weren’t necessary, and instead it was a standout performance by goalkeeper C.J. Cochran that earned the visitors victory. Cochran finished with a five-save shutout, including four in the second half, as Energy FC’s streak of taking at least one win in the postseason continued for a third successive season.
2. Since his return from a nasty elbow injury toward the end of the regular season, Energy FC forward Wojciech Wojcik had worked his way back into rhythm as the side’s attack began to flourish. On Saturday night, he not only produced a brilliant opening goal for the visitors four minutes before halftime, but also put in the sort of all-around display that highlighted his return to form overall. Wojcik was efficient in front of goal, putting four of his five chances on target as he was unfortunate not to score in the opening minute on a powerful low header. Wojcik’s work off the ball was also impressive as he led the Energy FC press with four tackles and two interceptions, winning possession in good areas for OKC to spring forward.
3. Reno lacked spark in the opening half, but the introduction of USL Golden Boot-winner Dane Kelly at halftime after the Jamaican had missed the final three games of the regular-season brought the 1868 FC attack to life as Reno created far more chances. The hosts produced a flurry of chances around the hour-mark that presented 1868 FC’s best chances to equalize. The highest-scoring attack in the USL this year ran into a standout performance by Energy FC goalkeeper C.J. Cochran, however, whose late saves on Brian Brown and Junior Burgos brought the curtain down on Reno’s outstanding first season.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
C.J. Cochran, OKC Energy FC – Cochran posted a five-save shutout, including a pair of big saves on Brian Brown and a stoppage-time denial of Junior Burgos to send Energy FC through.
Reno 1868 FC – End of Season
Western Conference Semifinals – OKC Energy FC at San Antonio FC, Saturday, Oct. 28, 8:30 p.m. ET, Toyota Field