Three Unanswered Goals in Second Half Lift Indy’s Winning Streak to Three Games, Unbeaten Run to Five Matches
Indy Eleven used three straight goals in the second half to storm past Orange County SC in a 3-1 victory that marked the third consecutive win for Indiana’s Team. Noah Powder and Stefano Pinho scored ten minutes apart to put the Eleven up by midway through the second stanza, while Aris Briggs put the nail in the coffin two minutes deep into stoppage time.
The triumph for Indy Eleven (3W-2L-2D) also pushed its undefeated streak to five games, the longest such stretch since a seven-game run that spanned the 2019 and 2020 campaigns. After beginning the season at the foot of the 14-team Eastern Conference table with two losses, the red-hot form of the Boys in Blue have them now sitting in fifth place on 11 points, with the fourth-place Tampa Bay Rowdies (13 pts.) and third-place Detroit City FC (14 pts.) both within their sights.
The best chance of the opening ten minutes fell to Indy Eleven off a recycled corner kick in the 9th minute, when a nifty 1-2 between Raul Aguilera and A.J. Cochran put the latter between two defenders and seemingly in alone on OCSC goalkeeper Pat Rakovsky, only for a late poke to see the ball out for a corner. That allowed Orange County to change the scoreboard first in the 13th minute on as direct a play as you’ll see, started by a Rakovsky goal kick up Route 1. OC midfielder Ugo Okoli’s header at midfield freed Mikko Kuningas behind the backline, and the Finnish forward was able to finish low past stranded Eleven netminder Elliot Panicco to give the visitors the early advantage.
While Eleven Head Coach Mark Lowry’s insertion of midfielder and captain Ayoze into the starting lineup was planned – which marked the Spaniard’s first start of 2022 – having to throw midfielder Neveal Hackshaw back into the mix early on was not. The Trinidad & Tobago international entered in the 25th minute to spell injured center back Mechack Jerome, marking his first time back on the pitch in a month for the Boys in Blue after missing the last four league contests.
Both teams would find the back of the next in the last half of the opening stanza, but each would be nullified by the offside flag, starting with Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres’ opportunity in the 39th minute. Five minutes later the Eleven were a bit hard done after forward Jonas Fjeldberg’s finish of Stefano Pinho’s flick on towards the penalty spot was called off, despite replays showing he was likely kept on by a defender.
Fjeldberg kept his foot on the gas to start the second half, getting a quality chance a minute in off a Justin Ingram feed into the area that the Norwegian attacker put just over the near upper corner. In the 49th Pinho snapped a header off a Alex McQueen’s service, but the chance fell right to Rakovsky. On the other end Kuningas searched for his second, but Cochran’s lunging tackle deflected the ball just wide of frame in the 50th minute, and a header fell just wide in the 53rd minute.
OCSC would rue those missed chances immediately, as 53rd minute Indy substitute midfielder Noah Powder evened the score just a minute after hitting the pitch. Pinho did well to muscle past a defender’s attempt to seal off on the endline, giving him space to pick out Powder’s run to the top of the six, from where he thundered in a first-time blast to bring the match even at 1-1.
Indiana’s Team kept the pressure on, starting with Powder’s chance from distance two minutes after his account opener. In the 64th minute Rakovsky came off his line to stymy both Pinho and Fjeldberg on back-to-back 50-50 balls, but he wasn’t so fortunate on the recycled chance, which started with Justin Ingram chipping another substitute, forward Manuel Arteaga, into the right side of the area. Arteaga hooked the ball over a charging Rakovsky and into the six, where Pinho crashed to beat a defender to the ball and headed into the vacated goal, pushing Indy in front for the first time on the evening.
From there, Indiana’s Team was able to put its thumb on the scale, controlling play and relinquishing no true threats on its frame, although a probing cross deep into the area on a play that was whistled offside did cause a nervous moment as the match crossed into three minutes of stoppage time. Briggs wound up ending the scoring in the 92nd minute for a second straight match courtesy of a nice build up through Pinho and Arteaga and a couple fortunate deflections in the area. This time his finish allowed Indy a vital insurance goal, and his third point off the bench in as many matches during the team’s winning streak also resulted in the Eleven notching its first multi-goal win of the campaign.
Indy Eleven will finish off its three-game homestand to close out the month this Saturday, April 30, when Indiana’s Team gets back to Eastern Conference opposition against Hartford Athletic. Tickets for all Indy Eleven regular season contests at IUPUI Carroll Stadium are available starting at just $15 and can be purchased online at indyeleven.com/tickets. Details on the evening’s Bike Night at The Mike festivities, benefitting Make-A-Wish of Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana, can be found at indyeleven.com/promotions. Fans who cannot make it to The Mike can follow the action on MyINDY-TV 23, Exitos Radio 94.3 FM/exitos943.com, and the @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers.
2022 USL Championship Regular Season – Matchday 7
Indy Eleven 3 : 1 Orange County SC
Sunday, April 24, 2022
IUPUI Michael A. Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, IN
OC – Mikko Kuningas (Ugo Okoli) 13’
IND – Noah Powder (Stefano Pinho) 54’
IND – Stefano Pinho (Manuel Arteaga) 64’
IND – Aris Briggs (unassisted) 92+’
OC – Kobi Henry (yellow card) 45+3’
IND – Noah Powder (yellow card) 55′
IND – Raul Aguilera (yellow card) 90’
Indy Eleven lineup (4-4-2): Elliot Panicco; Jared Timmer, A.J. Cochran, Mechack Jerome (Neveal Hackshaw 25’), Alex McQueen; Ayoze (captain) (Manuel Arteaga 45’), Justin Ingram, Raul Aguilera, Nicky Law (Noah Powder 53’); Jonas Fjeldberg (Aris Briggs 71’), Stefano Pinho
IND substitutes: Tim Trilk (GK), Karl Ouimette, Rodney Michael
Orange County SC lineup (4-3-3): Pat Rakovsky; Alex Villanueva (Brent Richards 79’), Hunter Gorskie, Kobi Henry; Ugo Okoli, Daniel Pedersen (Tony Rocha 66’), Tommy McCabe (Kevin Partida 65’), Seth Casiple; Milan Iloski, Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres (Albi Skendi 70’), Mikko Kuningas
OC Substitutes: Colin Shutler (GK), Jonny Gomez