Loyal win on final second own goal, 2-1

Credit: Jeremy Collins/ EVT Sports

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Credit: Jeremy Collins/ EVT Sports

The San Diego Loyal were fantastic on Saturday afternoon, but they required a stroke of good fortune in the final moments.

Despite dominating the match, they looked well on their way to a devastating 1-1 draw with FC Tulsa until an own goal from Collin Fernandez snagged a 2-1 win for the Loyal in the final moments.

San Diego dominated the first half the entire way, but that only made it more frustrating when they couldn’t find a goal. Blake Bodily had the first big chance of the match, but his shot was parried away by Michael Nelson in the third minute. The Loyal were pressing hard on defense, forcing plenty of interceptions that set up their offense.

However, when in possession, the Loyal were content to build up the play slowly, working the ball upfield with numerous passes. FC Tulsa was limited to chances via counterattacks, and they got one from Milo Yosef in the seventh minute. He sent a cross across the face of the goal, but nobody on either side touched the ball before it skated out of danger. In the 20th minute, San Diego began sending long passes to Nick Moon, who spent his time on the right wing. That paid dividends six minutes later when Moon beat Brett Levis, winning a penalty after he was brought down in the box.

Charlie Adams stepped up to try and give San Diego the lead, choosing to use a cheeky Panenka to do so. His chip fooled Nelson but bounced back off the crossbar, squandering the massive opportunity. That didn’t stop the Loyal’s control of the game, but it did prove to be the best chance they’d get in the half. Tulsa did force goalie Koke Vegas to dive in order to parry a header from Marcus Epps in the 37th minute, but he handled it well. San Diego’s forwards Evan Conway and Ronaldo Damus each sent wild shots off target in the final minutes of the half, keeping the scoresheet blank. “Nate {Miller} came in and made sure that we knew that we had a good half, even if things didn’t go our way.”, said Conway after the match.

San Diego wasted no time getting a clear-cut look, but Evan Conway scuffed his shot from inside the box, sending it right of the goal. In the 60th minute, Vegas dove to deny a shot from Tulsa, who were playing much better in the second half. However, they were also being more aggressive, as Jorge Korales picked up a yellow as he tried to tackle Damus on a Loyal counterattack. On the resulting free-kick, the ball fell inside the six-yard box, but nobody got a foot to it before it was cleared.

Credit: Jeremy Collins/ EVT Sports

Then, in the 63rd minute, the breakthrough finally came. Charlie Adams, after his penalty miss, sent a curling cross into the box. It found its way to the extended foot of Conway, who tapped it home. San Diego, the better team for the entire match, finally had a deserved lead.

After working so hard to put themselves ahead, San Diego’s stout defense broke immediately. FC Tulsa scored from the kickoff, with Rodrigo Da Costa answering back to level the score at one. San Diego were lucky to not go behind in the 69th minute when a mis-hit shot from Tulsa went straight to Dyer, who had an open look from eight yards out. He also hit the ball poorly, keeping the game level. 

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San Diego made a handful of substitutions, bringing Joe Corona, Camden Riley, Elliot Collier, and Adrian Perez all on in a ten-minute window as they pressed to find a winner. There were numerous shouts for a penalty in the 79th minute when Collier went down inside Tulsa’s box, but they were denied by the referee. “I think in the past you’ve seen us capitulate and kind of feel sorry for ourselves when the game isn’t going our way, but we were able to just be present in the moment and make the next good play.”, said Loyal manager Nate Miller.

In the 85th minute, it was Riley’s turn for a near-miss. His shot slid past the right post, squandering another chance to snag a win in the final moments. 

It was an extremely frustrating result for San Diego, who was the better team for nearly the entire match. However, they failed to take their chances well, and one moment of brilliance from Tulsa was enough to earn a draw for the visitors. After starting the season with wins in their first two matches, San Diego has just two points from their last three. 

At least, that’s what it would’ve been. In the 93rd minute, Nick Moon sent a cross into the box. Tulsa’s Collin Fernandez sent it into his own goal, sealing a dramatic and deserved win for the Loyal. 

They’ve won all three home matches this season, but they’ve yet to win in two chances on the road. They’ll try to change that in their next match at New Mexico United.

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