Oklahoma City Energy FC goalie Evan Newton saved two spot kicks in the penalty shoot out to see off the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC in the USL Western Conference semi-final. The Energy FC move on in the playoffs and will host the Los Angeles Galaxy 2 next week.
The night did not start well for Oklahoma. The Switchbacks took a shock lead in the 6th minute through an effort by their leading goal scorer and team captain Luke Vercollone. Colorado bossed the majority of the first half. With the lead, the visiting side slowed the pace of the game in order to preserve the advantage. The Energy FC looked a bit sluggish and out of sorts having not played since September 16th. Colorado came close to executing a perfect first half, but Oklahoma found an equalizer as the half came to an end. Energy FC Chuy Sanchez headed a Daneil Gonzalez cross into the goal in 45th minute. The goal ignited the fans and gave Oklahoma the momentum going into the half.
Quality chances were few and far between in the second half. Each team played not to lose instead of playing to win. The game opened up a little in the last fifteen minutes of the half, but neither team was able to score. The game moved into the next phase – extra time. Oklahoma struck first with a well worked effort in the 97th minute. Energy FC Kyle Greig setup unmarked teammate Peabo Doue at the top of the box. Doue confidently struck a first time shot past the Switchbacks goalkeeper Devala Gorrick. Oklahoma now held a 2-1 lead. However, Switchback forward Aaron King had other ideas. In a great solo effort, King blew past his defender, drove into the home side’s penalty area and slotted a well placed shot into the Energy goal. The game tied 2-2. That was the last goal from the run of play. Extra-time ended 2-2 and the matched moved to the shoot out.
A hero emerged for the home side. Goalkeeper Evan Newton. His teammates were flawless not missing a shot, but he saved two of Colorado’s attempts. After his second save, the Energy FC field players sprinted from the halfway line to the goal to celebrate their game winning keeper. Oklahoma won the shoot out 4-3.
The Switchbacks FC put in a good showing in their inagural season and will feel good going forward making it to the Western Conference semi-finals. Oklahoma advances to the finals and will host the Los Angeles Galaxy 2 on October 11th. The winner will face either the Rochester Rhinos or Louiville City FC for the USL 2015 Championship.