USL PRO Game Report
Saturday, September 13, 2014
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The Harrisburg City Islanders recorded a stunning upset as Antoine Hoppenot scored the only goal to defeat USL PRO regular-season champion Orlando City SC 1-0 in the quarterfinals of the 2014 USL PRO Playoffs on Saturday night at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Featuring a true playoff atmosphere, the action quickly got underway as both sides produced chances in an end-to-end first half. In the fifth minute, Rob Valentino provided the opening chance for Orlando City with a leaping header that was saved for a corner by Harrisburg goalkeeper Nicholas Noble.
One minute later, Hertzog continued City's attack as he connected with Kevin Molino’s ball into the penalty area. However, his first-time effort flew just over the bar.
The City Islanders’ pace up front led to several dangerous chances in the opening portion of the first half. Harrisburg’s first clear opportunity came in the 25th minute when Jimmy McLaughlin found Jamiel Hardware on the edge of the penalty area. After avoiding the incoming challenges from City defenders, Hardware’s final shot was hit wide of the target.
The City Islanders eventually broke through five minutes before the end of the half with an effective counter-attack. As multiple Orlando players pushed high up the pitch, Hardware played Hoppenot in behind on a good angled run behind the defense. The Philadelphia Union loanee controlled and sent a good finish in from the top of the penalty area into the right corner.
Orlando had a strong case for a penalty deep in stoppage time, after Adama Mbengue appeared to be brought down in the penalty area. However, the referee waved the play on, leaving the City Islanders up 1-0 at the halftime break.
The Lions opened the second half with even greater urgency, as they continued to battle for an equalizer. In the 55th minute, Bryan Burke sent an early ball into the penalty area that led to a corner for the Lions. Mbengue’s ensuing set-piece was cleared by Harrisburg to Estrela, whose volley from the edge of the area went high and wide.
After slipping in behind the Islanders’ backline, Hertzog followed up with an opportunity to equalize in the 66th minute, but his shot was deflected away by a last-ditch challenge by center back Richie Marquez.
With time winding down, the Lions continued to push forward in a dramatic close to the match. In the 78th minute, Kevin Molino floated a ball to the near-post for Dennis Chin, whose header went just inches wide of the target. Shortly afterward, Mbengue surged into the penalty area and produced a late chance for Orlando, but his shot was deflected wide for a corner.
Frustration began to build on both sides and Harrisburg's Robbie Derschang was sent off for a reckless challenge on Mbengue in stoppage time. With Orlando City holding a one-man advantage, the Lions pressed into Harrisburg’s half, searching for a game-tying goal to send the match into extra time.
The Islanders were able to hold off the mounting pressure from Orlando, however, as they secured an upset victory and a place in the semifinals of the USL PRO Playoffs.
The City Islanders will now travel to face the Richmond Kickers, with kickoff of the semifinal match-up set for Saturday, September 20 at 7 p.m. ET at City Stadium.