USL Game Report
Saturday, August 8, 2015
IRVINE, Calif. – The Austin Aztex and Orange County Blues saw their goalkeepers battle for the spotlight, but the Blues ultimately finished with the upper hand, defeating the Aztex 1-0 Saturday night at Anteater Stadium in Irvine, Calif. Nikola Ilich’s first-half goal was the difference as the defenses had a busy night with the teams combining for 15 shots on goal.
The Blues moved to 10-8-3 on the season while the Aztex fell to 7-11-3.
Aztex goalkeeper Devin Perales came up with eight saves in the match, including a handful of clutch saves in the first half, but first-half substitute Ilich came up with the lone goal in the match for the Blues with his first career goal when he hit a left-footed volley in the 35th minute.
The Aztex settled after the opening 15 minutes and began to build the attack through Sainey Touray and Kris Tyrpak. However, the high defensive line for the Blues allowed for Touray to be called offside three times in the opening half while Tyrpak’s first half shot attempts were punched away by Blues goalkeeper Billy Thompson.
Both squads were forced to tap into their reserves early in the match, making changes in the 24th minute due to apparent injuries. Mozzi Gyorio entered for Drew Yates for the Aztex while the Blues deployed Ilich in for team captain Didier Crettenand. Ilich was able to give the Blues the early advantage when fellow teammate Christopher Santana found him near the backside of the goal. Ilich took the cross and hit a first touch, left-footed volley that found its way past Perales.
Aside from the goal from Ilich, Perales had an outstanding first half for the Aztex, coming up with seven saves, including a pair of close-range saves in the 45th minute from a Blues free kick.
In the second half, the Aztex looked to get back into the match. The Aztex would find opportunities through second half substitutions in Trevin Caesar and Romain Gall, but their greatest opportunity emerged when Luka Petricevic received his second yellow card, giving the Aztex a numbers advantage on the 10-man Blues squad.
While the Aztex pressed to get their equalizer, their best chance came in stoppage time when they were awarded their first penalty kick of the season after the referee determined that a Blues player handled the ball in the penalty area from a shot. Andres Cuero stepped up to take the attempt, which was saved by Thompson. Thompson would clean up another Aztex shot in the closing seconds to seal the result.