Written by Will Ogburn
Kissimmee, FL - With their second loss in two games behind them, and the playoffs fast approaching, Orlando City took the pitch at home on Saturday the 16th against the Harrisburg City Islanders with revenge on their minds. It was Harrisburg City that turned the Lions singular loss at Rochester into a mini-slump when the Islanders beat Orlando City 3-2 last Saturday at the Skyline Sports Complex in Harrisburg. OCSC came into the game with a narrow one point lead over the Richmond Kickers, though Richmond had played two more games.
With the mist rising off of the pitch and a glow emanating from Orlando City’s pink and white breast cancer awareness jerseys, the first half got underway. Among many regulars, Orlando City featured a lineup of the newly returned defender, Rob Valentino, and the first start of Harrison Heath. Heath is the son of Orlando City’s head coach, Adrian Heath. This fresh lineup would meet challenges early as Harrisburg’s Robbie Derchang sailed a ball past the fingertips of O-City goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo in the fifth minute. That would be the one blemish in an overall solid defensive effort for the Lions.
Orlando City’s offense would put on a show in the first half, leading the Islanders in shooting 11-3. Never was this more evident than the equalizing score by City midfielder Darwin Ceren within a minute of Derchang’s stadium-deflating strike. With the chances coming freely, It wasn’t long before Kevin Molino scored in the eighteenth minute, giving a 2-1 lead to City. This was Molino’s fifteenth goal of the season, tying ex-teammate Dom Dwyer, who also scored his fifteenth in last year’s breast cancer awareness game. Kevin said that Dom texted him yesterday wishing him good luck, before downplaying the record by saying “It doesn’t matter if I score any more, its just (about) the team going on and winning the league.”
The second half was chippy, though largely scoreless. The offense seemed to stall, with chance after chance being squandered inside the box. The game was finally busted open in the eighty-eighth minute when Darwin Ceren again broke free, sending a bullet to the corner of the net to seal the victory. Today’s win combined with Richmond draw cemented a three point lead in the standings with still two games more to play than the Rhinos.
Coach Adrian Heath was certainly more impressed with his player’s performances than he was last Saturday. “I thought the lads were more focused, their effort and enthusiasm and drive was there. They’re not used to losing…every time we’ve had a bad result, they’ve bounced back.” He was also proud of his son Heath’s performance in his first start. “I thought he did very well. His range of passing, his choice of passing was good. For his first game he can be very pleased with his contribution.” As for the team, they can be proud of their performance and sleep a bit easier knowing that their lead in the division is safer than when they started the day. The Lions next game comes on Wednesday, August 20th against the Charlotte Eagles for the third and final time of the season. The Islanders will play Rochester next Saturday, the 23rd.