Pirates stand firm on defense, use late heroics to win at Golden West

OCC freshman defender Kiana Carlos attempts a shot on goal in the second half during the Pirates’ 2-1 win on Nov. 9.

The best offense is a good defense.

It’s an adage as old as time, yet perfectly describes the physical, defensive soccer match Orange Coast College played against Golden West College (GWC) on Friday.

The Pirates broke down the Rustlers’ offense all game to pull off a 2-1 victory on the road against their conference rival.

With the exception of allowing one penalty kick goal, the OCC defense held strong until the final whistle.

The Pirates’ fullbacks set the tone early with a defensive stand throughout the first half. GWC dominated possession of the ball from kickoff, but could never string together a fluid offensive sequence because of a disrupting band of OCC defenders.

Solidified by a couple of saves from goalkeeper Jessica Gardner, OCC’s defensive display kept the Rustlers off of the scoreboard in the first half.

“Our defenders were playing their butts off,” OCC freshman forward Eden Makaafi said. “The ball wouldn’t have gotten up the field if it wasn’t for their hard work.”

The Pirates had a handful of offensive opportunities in the first 35 minutes, but could not execute on their opportunities. For example, OCC sophomore defender Kylee Brandau forced a GWC turnover late in the first half, but the offense was unable to capitalize after the transition.

Right before the halftime whistle, OCC freshman forward Lily Carroll kicked in the lone goal of the first half, and the Pirates took their first lead of the game: 1-0.

GWC had the opportunity to tie the game up before the break, but shot a penalty kick right into the arms of OCC’s goalkeeper.

The Pirates led at halftime 1-0, making the best of limited opportunities offensively.

OCC looked much more ball-dominant early in the second half, putting pressure on the GWC backs in the second frame.

Highlighted by outstanding defensive pressures from backs, OCC continued to get the offense opportunities in transition — although it would take an unfortunate setback for the Pirates offense to make their efforts count.

In the 64th minute, play inside the penalty area became a little too aggressive, and the Rustlers earned a PK on the penalty spot. GWC forward Marlen Albarran nailed the top-left corner of the net, and the game was once again tied 1-1.

Both offenses stalled late in the second half, but heroics from OCC’s Makaafi put the idea of a draw to bed.

“We really needed this win today,” Makaafi said. “I just wanted to [score] for my team, it was a ‘go, go, go’ mentality, and the ball somehow found the back of the net.”

At the end of a well-articulated offensive sequence, Makaafi placed the ball right over the GWC goalkeeper, and the ball rolled into the net to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead in the final minute of the game.

The Pirates prevented any last-ditch attempts of forcing a tie, and held out for a 2-1 victory on the road.

OCC will play their final game of the season at home against Santa Ana College on Friday at 3 p.m.

“We’ll definitely be playing for our sophomores on the team who will be moving on,” Makaafi said. “It’s our last home game, so it should be special.”

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