Energy FC Ends Winless Streak With Gritty Victory
Ryan Chapman, Sports Editor
Energy FC before the game kicks off. Pioneer Photo: Jenna Lowrance
OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma- It often wasn’t pretty, but Energy FC earned their first win in five games, shutting out Orange County SC 1-0.
Though the Energy had controlled vast portions of play over their past three games, they had yet to put it all together and emerge victorious. The formula had been the same: dominate the first half but struggle to bag the end result, and concede goals in the second half to sink the team.
Finally, the Energy turned a corner.
With the wind at their backs, Oklahoma City again dominated the first half.
The Energy struck gold in the fourth minute. Alexy Bosetti won a foul 30 yards from goal, and Alvin Jones created a goal to remember. Jones struck a low drive towards the Orange County back post, where the ball took a deflection straight into the back of the net, leaving the keeper with no chance.
Oklahoma City head coach Steve Cooke thought the deflected goal was no stroke of luck.
“Whenever you shoot, and you’ve got someone like Alvin Jones who shoots the way he can, and people are in the way of it, you’re going to get those opportunities. If you kick it over the bar, you’ve got no chance,” Cooke said of the newly signed defender. “Alvin has got the ball on target and for me it’s Alvin Jones’ goal.”
Oklahoma City head coach Steve Cooke celebrates the Energy goal. Pioneer Photo: Jenna Lowrance
Despite the strong start, Oklahoma City appeared to be following the same formula for the rest of the first half. The Energy played the first half almost exclusively on Orange County’s end of the field. They outshot Orange County twelve to three, but only forced goalkeeper Aaron Cervantes into one save.
Once again, after a dominant first half, the Energy only had a single goal to show for their efforts headed into intermission.
Out of the break, the game turned completely on its head. With the change of ends, it was Orange County’s turn to have the strong wind at their backs, which allowed them to pin Oklahoma City into their own end.
Orange County outshot the Energy 17-to-3 in the second half, but Oklahoma City’s defense stood tall.
Energy goalkeeper Cody Laurendi stole the show during the four minutes of added time, posting three saves over the closing moments to keep the clean sheet and secure the win.
Goalkeeper Cody Laurendi was crucial for Oklahoma City down the stretch. Pioneer Photo: Jenna Lowrance
In the 92nd minute, following an Orange County corner kick, the Energy were unable to clear their box resulting in a scrum for the ball. It finally settled at the feet of an Orange County player who rocketed a shot at the goal. Laurendi dove and got just enough of the ball to tip it onto the crossbar and safely away from the Energy goal.
“Cody Laurendi is a solid presence for this team and nobody wants clean sheets more than him. For him to make that big save at the end to keep the clean sheet is fantastic,” said Cooke.
Laurendi credits the saves to his ability to stay focused for the entire 90 minutes.
“You’ve got to keep a low heartbeat. You can get excited and possibly make a mistake. But those are the moments where you kind of hone in, you don’t get too high in terms of the excitement level,” said Laurendi.
Oklahoma City fielded the same defensive starting lineup for consecutive matches for the first time this season. As a result, the Energy posted their first shutout of the year. With injuries to Kyle Hyland and Nicolas Taravel, Oklahoma City has continued to shuffle the lineup, signing Mike da Fonte and Jones to fill the void.
Continuity at the back, formed through allowing the same group of defenders to play side by side, will be the remedy for the Energy’s defensive woes.
The Energy needed a win by any manner, but the gutsy second half performance from the Oklahoma City defense will provide a great lift to the psyche of the team.
“I think the difference tonight is the players really said, “look come on, we’ve got to win this game, we’ve got to keep this clean sheet.” Sometimes when it’s a bit of a back and forth game it can make it a little bit harder,” said Cooke.
Cooke hopes the win will kick start a good run of form for the Energy.
“Whenever you win you grow in confidence, and when you grow in confidence you tend to play a little bit better,” said Cooke. “I think to get that win, but also the clean sheet… has been something that we really want to pride ourselves on. Tonight that looked a little bit more solid and looked a little bit more like the team we want to be moving forward.”
The win couldn’t have come at a better time for Oklahoma City. The Energy now look to their first meeting of the season with their instate rivals, the Tulsa Roughnecks.
Alexy Bosetti with the Energy fans after the match. Bosetti has been a star in the midfield for OKC this season. Pioneer Photo: Jenna Lowrance
Laurendi knows the Energy must build on the positive performance to come out on top in a raucous atmosphere in Tulsa next week.
“Everything is amplified. We want to put on a good show always for the fans, but we know how much this one means to them. We want to show through our play how much it means to us,” said Laurendi. The Energy will return to action Saturday night at 7 p.m. when they hit the road to face the Tulsa Roughnecks at OneOK field.