Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC
SAN ANTONIO – Goalkeeper C.J. Cochran came through with two saves to send the No. 6-seed OKC Energy FC through to the Western Conference Final with a 4-1 victory in a penalty shootout against No. 2-seed San Antonio FC after the teams had played to a 1-1 draw after extra time at Toyota Field on Saturday night in the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs. Cochran made saves from SAFC’s Ever Guzman in the first round and Michael Reed in the third to allow Anthony Wallace to score to open the fourth round and send Energy FC into its second Western Conference Final in club history. San Antonio had taken the lead in just the eighth minute as Cesar Elizondo turned 30 yards from goal, and a deflection off his marker wrong-footed OKC goalkeeper C.J. Cochran and found the right corner of the net. Energy FC almost hit back immediately as Jose Angulo’s shot was deflected wide by a last-ditch challenge from SAFC defender Sebastien Ibeagha, and both Angulo and Wojciech Wojcik had chances saved by SAFC goalkeeper Diego Restrepo looked for an equalizer. Energy FC again went close to an equalizer early in the second half, only for Restrepo to make a big save to deny Angulo’s flicked header, and Angulo fired just wide of the left post in the 62nd minute after SAFC had missed a clearance at the top of the penalty area, but with six minutes to go OKC found its equalizer as Wojcik flicked home a cross from the left by Angulo into the right corner of the net to send the game to extra time. OKC had the first good chance seven minutes into extra time as a long ball forward to Jose Angulo saw the Energy FC striker control and fire a turning shot that produced a low save by San Antonio goalkeeper Diego Restrepo. San Antonio answered with a chance four minutes later as a long shot by Rafa Castillo was only parried by Energy FC goalkeeper C.J. Cochran, but Billy Forbes blazed the rebound high. Forbes went close again early in the second period, hitting the side-netting after a good chipped through-ball by Castillo, while Michael Reed also had a late chance for the hosts only to miss out on a clean contact on a first-time chance. From there, the game went to a shootout, where Cochran came through as the hero again.
8’ – SA – Cesar Elizondo (Ryan Roushandel)
85’ – OKC – Wojciech Wojcik (Jose Angulo)
SA – 99-Ever Guzman, Saved; 16-Rafa Castillo, Goal; 8-Michael Reed, Saved
OKC – 9-Jose Angulo, Goal; 17-Jonathan Brown, Goal; 3-Kyle Hyland, Goal; 22-Anthony Wallace, Goal
Three Things That Matter:
1. Energy FC’s resolute effort earned it a place in the Western Conference Final as the side continued its outstanding run of for late in the season with a second consecutive road victory to advance to face the No. 4-seed Swope Park Rangers next weekend. Energy FC produced numerous chances after a wicked deflection had put the side behind early, and while Wojciech Wojcik’s didn’t come in as nearly as dramatic fashion as Miguel Gonzalez’s stoppage-time equalizer in the previous encounter between the teams this season at Toyota Field, it was enough to give his side new life in the contest.
2. OKC goalkeeper C.J. Cochran came up big time and again in the second half of Energy FC’s Western Conference Quarterfinal against No. 3-seed Reno 1868 FC last Saturday night, but his display staring down SAFC’s shooters from the spot at least matched that effort to earn his side a chance at a first trip to the USL Cup. Energy FC is now undefeated in six games since Cochran’s first start after the injury suffered by regular starter Cody Laurendi in early September, and the side will try to maintain that momentum into a fascinating clash with the Swope Park Rangers next Saturday night.
3. Given the nature of its opening goal, San Antonio might have thought its seventh encounter with Energy FC was going to end up differently, but once again the hex OKC has held over SAFC in the all-time series between the sides came through. Rafa Castillo’s introduction as a substitute almost produced the chance SAFC needed to claim victory in extra time, but in the end time ran out on a stellar second season for the club in disappointing fashion.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
C.J. Cochran, OKC Energy FC – Cochran made two fine saves in the shootout after suffering a slice of misfortune in the first half, allowing Energy FC to advance on penalty kicks for the second time in club history.
San Antonio FC – End of Season
Western Conference Final – OKC Energy FC at Swope Park Rangers, Nov. 4, 8:30 p.m. ET, Children’s Mercy Park