After two gut wrenching results in which Saint Louis FC gave up a goal in added time to lose to Real Monarchs and two goals in the closing minutes of the first half in a losing effort against LA Galaxy II, the other shoe finally dropped. STLFC was able to score its own late goals to claim victory for the first time this season when it defeated the Orange County Blues Saturday night by a score of 3-1.
Saint Louis rookie and second half substitute, Vince Cicciarelli, scored his first professional goal in the 88th minute to break a 1-1 draw and quickly added his second career goal minutes later in added time to complete his brace and secure the first win of the season.
"In a game where the other team is trying to play big ball and press their line high to get second balls, there's a lot of space for Vince to run in and that was the tactic tonight." said Head Coach Dale Schilly. " That's what Vince brings - big body, hard work and the ability to score on breaks."
In the first half, Orange County defender Roy Meeus sent a free kick into the box in the 24th minute which was deflected to fellow defensemen, Brenton Griffiths, who buried the ball in the back of the net, giving the Blues a 1-0 lead.
Saint Louis made the most of its first free kick opportunity eight minutes later when defender James Musa, playing in the midfield on this night, scored his and the club's first goal of the season off the set piece.
Schilly said he felt Fink and Cochran would be a good combination to combat headers due to Orange County's direct style of play and that Musa's athleticism would help get onto second balls. "As for the restart, he's always been the guy who says 'let me hit restarts' and he does them in training and sure enough, he bent it around the wall and up in the corner which was a huge response to their goal." added Schilly.
It looked like Orange County might take control in the 56th minute when awarded a penalty kick. Midfielder Pavle Popara fired a shot low to the left post and Saint Louis goalkeeper Ryan Thompson was able to make the save and keep the score level. Thompson would be replaced by Mark Pais a few minutes later after suffering an injury while diving for a save.
Saint Louis accumulated another yellow card as Parker Maher was booked in the 45th minute.
Saint Louis FC concludes its three-game road trip to start the season with a record of 1-2-0 for a total of 3 points. While the process wasn't easy, Schilly says to compete the way they did against three very good, if not championship contending, teams is "huge". "I don't know that you get the result tonight if you don't go through what we went through Saturday and Wednesday. We met, we talked, we did a lot of soul searching with the group and because we faced it head on, the guys were not willing to break tonight."
Saint Louis FC returns to action next Saturday, April 9 when they visit the Oklahoma City Energy for the first of four meetings this season. For more information or for tickets to the STLFC home opener on April 16th against the Tulsa Roughnecks, visit saintlouisfc.com.