Indy Eleven Ends Arizona Stay with 0-1 Defeat to OC Blues FC
Physical Game Sees USL Side Score Lone Tally in First Half
CASA GRANDE, ARIZONA (Monday, March 7, 2016) – Indy Eleven pressed to recreate the second half scoring punch it enjoyed on Friday, but couldn’t find an equalizer against Orange County Blues FC in a 0-1 defeat at the Grande Sports World complex. The result ended an eight-day stay in Arizona for the “Boys in Blue,” who will head back to Indianapolis tomorrow to continue their preseason preparations.
A physical 90 minutes began with OC Blues having the better of the chances, although no shots would test Eleven goalkeeper Jon Busch until he made a fine one-handed save at his right post in the 19th minute.
The USL side looked to employ long balls over the Indy backline on the windy evening, and the tactic worked in the 36th minute when a Blues FC attacker got goal side on an Eleven defender while chasing down a 60-yard ball from the back. With Busch forced to come off his line, the attacker chipped the ball over the onrushing ‘keeper and into the upper right corner to move the scoreboard for Orange County.
Indy Eleven’s best chance of the first half came four minutes later. Midfielder Don Smart whipped in a low cross from the right flank, but the pass skipped through the six-yard box and just past the runs of both midfielder Duke Lacroix and forward Wojciech Wojcik, the latter who got the start after his hat trick Friday versus Arizona United FC.
While the second half was controlled largely by the “Boys in Blue,” halftime substitute goalkeeper Keith Cardona would be pressed into action early in the 48th minute, first punching a drilled effort from the right side of the area into the ground before holding on to a hard shot from 20 yards out that followed.
Wojcik’s teammates would start to find him soon after, with guest midfielder Mike Klain supplying a pair of fine crosses from the right in the 52nd and 53rd minutes to create chances, the first missing just wide and the second forcing the Blues backstop into a save. In the 64th minute it was midfielder Dragan Stojkov providing a cutback cross from the left endline, but “Woj” would be robbed from the corner of the six by a leaping, one-handed stop.
The chances would dry up for both sides in the last 20 minutes, but Indy still managed to ask some questions of the Blues defense down the stretch. Upfield for a set piece, defender Greg Janicki nearly nodded home midfielder Dylan Mares’ free kick in the 72nd minute, while Lacroix’s near angle shot off Smart’s far post cross in the 84th minute would force one last save.
After returning home Tuesday, Indy Eleven will stay inside the Hoosier State for the remainder of its build up to its 2016 NASL season opener on Saturday, April 2, at the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The squad will resume exhibition action this Saturday, March 12, in the Indianapolis area with a closed-door scrimmage against new USL side FC Cincinnati at 11:00 a.m. ET. The game will be closed to the public but open to members of the media, who are asked to email John@IndyEleven.com for more information.
OCB – goal 36’
Indy Eleven 1st Half XI (4-2-3-1, L -> R): Jon Busch; Marco Franco, Nemanja VukoviÄ‡, Colin Falvey (Greg Janicki 35’), Lovel Palmer; Gorka Larrea, Brad Ring; Duke Lacroix, Siniša UbiparipoviÄ‡ (Eamon Zayed 30’), Don Smart; Wojciech Wojcik
Indy Eleven 2nd Half XI (4-2-3-1): Keith Cardona; Marco Franco, Greg Janicki, Cory Miller, Lovel Palmer (Don Smart 67’); Nemanja VukoviÄ‡ (Duke Lacroix 67’), Dylan Mares; Dragan Stojkov, Eamon Zayed, Mike Klain; Wojciech Wojcik