Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh brought a crowd of 10,047 at Slugger Field to its feet as he recorded two saves in a penalty shootout as No. 1-seed Louisville City FC took a 4-3 victory from the spot against defending USL Cup champion and No. 7-seed the New York Red Bulls II after the teams had played to a 1-1 draw through regulation and extra time in the Eastern Conference Final of the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs on Saturday night. The teams exchanged goals in the opening round, but after New York’s Douglas Martinez found the right corner to open the second round, Red Bulls II goalkeeper Evan Louro made a diving save to deny Louisville’s Paolo DelPiccolo’s shot to the left corner. The teams exchanged goals in the third round, but keeping New York ahead, but Louisville goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh got his side back on level terms to open the fourth round with a save on Ben Mines, allowing Oscar Jimenez to tie things up. The Trinidad & Tobago international then made another save to open the fifth round to deny Ethan Kutler as he tipped the shot to the left corner onto the crossbar and out, which opened the door for Richard Ballard to score and send Louisville to its first USL Cup. Louisville had taken an early lead in the first half as Brian Ownby’s turning shot snuck into the left corner of the net for his third goal of the postseason. New York came into the game more as the first half progressed, however, and leveled in the 57th minute when a fast counterattack by Junior Flemmings saw the Jamaican produce a shot that deflected home to level. Neither side was able to break the deadlock from there, although Kutler came close early in the first period of extra time with a fierce free kick from just outside the penalty area that was pegged for the left corner, only for Ranjitsingh to just tip it wide. After being eliminated in a shootout a year ago by the Red Bulls II, though, Louisville came through from the spot this time around to ensure the third time was a charm as it claimed its first Eastern Conference Championship.
12’ – LOU – Brian Ownby (Luke Spencer)
57’ – NY – Junior Flemmings (Stefano Bonomo)
LOU – 24-Kyle Smith, Goal; 36-Paolo DelPiccolo, Saved; 4-Sean Totsch, Goal; 19-Oscar Jimenez, Goal; 17-Richard Ballard, Goal
NY – 29-Stefano Bonomo, Goal; 91-Douglas Martinez, Goal; 22-Florian Valot, Goal; 52-Ben Mines, Saved; 92-Ethan Kutler, Saved
Three Things That Matter:
1. There might have been a sense of déjà vu when Louisville’s Paolo DelPiccolo had his save in the second round of the penalty shootout saved, giving the Red Bulls II an advantage, but in the end it was the decisive save by Louisville goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh that had everyone suffering from flashbacks. Almost a replica of New York goalkeeper Ryan Meara’s save that earned the Red Bulls II victory against Louisville in last year’s Eastern Conference Final, Ranjitsingh’s brilliant stop to keep out Ethan Kutler’s penalty kick to open the fifth round capped another enthralling contest between the two Eastern Conference heavyweights.
2. After scoring two goals in two games coming off the bench in the opening two games of the postseason, Louisville Head Coach James O’Connor elected to put Brian Ownby in his starting lineup on Saturday night, and was rewarded with a sterling performance that saw the winger notch another goal, and threaten regularly before he was substituted in the 87th minute. After his display on Saturday night, it should be a certainty that Ownby retains his starting position for the USL Cup on Nov. 13 as Louisville looks to claim the championship.
3. Stefano Bonomo has stolen the attacking headlines this postseason for the Red Bulls II, but on Saturday night it was Junior Flemmings that looked the biggest threat for the visitors as his equalizing goal highlighted an energetic display from the Jamaican international. Flemmings’ willingness to take on defenders made him a hit or miss proposition when in the attacking third, but when Flemmings hit just before the hour-mark, it hit the jackpot for New York as the Red Bulls II became the first team to score against Louisville in the USL Cup Playoffs at Slugger Field.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Greg Ranjitsingh, Louisville City FC – Ranjitsingh made a tremendous save in extra time to keep his side ahead, and then two stellar saves in the shootout after City had gone behind, to send Lousville to its first league silverware in club history.
Louisville City FC – USL Cup vs. Swope Park Rangers, Nov. 13, 9 p.m. ET
New York Red Bulls II – End of Season