By SBI SOCCER
There will be a new champion in the USL this season and eight teams remain to vie for that title.
A weekend of conference quarterfinals action saw the New York Red Bulls II, Charleston Battery, LA Galaxy II and Colorado Springs Switchbacks each advance into the next round at the expenses of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Richmond Kickers, Seattle Sounders FC 2 and the reigning USL champion Sacramento Republic FC.
RBNY II and Charleston both dug down deep and show some grit in their respective wins, while early efforts from Galaxy II and the Switchbacks proved to be enough.
Here is a closer look at the what happened in each of the conference quarterfinal matchups:
NEW YORK RED BULLS II 4, PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS 2, OT (REPLAY)
Karl Ouimette lifted a resilient RBNY II in Harrison, N.J., with two goals — including a game-winner in the second half of overtime — in a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
William Hunt twice put the visiting Riverhounds in the lead, with the first time coming in the 15th minute and the other six minutes into the first half of overtime. But Manolo Sanchez and Ouimette each found an equalizer at the 62nd and 102nd minute, respectively, to keep RBNY II in contention for the win.
With the score leveled at 2-2, Ouimette rose to head home a ball off a corner kick that was headed across by a Pittsburgh defender, giving RBNY II its first lead of the game at the 115th minute. Dan Bedoya would add on an insurance goal four minutes after to ensure a date against the Rochester Rhinos on Oct. 3.
CHARLESTON BATTERY 2, RICHMOND KICKERS 1, OT (REPLAY)
Forrest Lasso could not have found a better time to tally his first professional goal as he helped the Battery avenge a loss from last postseason by rallying from a early deficit in overtime to defeat the Richmond Kickers, 2-1, at home.
A mishit clearance by Charleston defender Taylor Mueller sailed over goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper and into the net to give Richmond a 1-0 lead just 48 seconds into overtime, but Dane Kelly was able to head home the equalizer in the 107th minute for the Battery with help from Dante Marini.
Seven minutes later, Lasso — who was brought on as a substitute in overtime — soared over a couple of Richmond defenders to nod home the eventual game-winner, giving the Kickers a taste of their own medicine after the Battery fell to them by the same score in overtime in last season’s playoffs.
Charleston will visit Louisville City FC on Oct. 3 in the conference semifinals.
LA GALAXY II 1, SACRAMENTO REPUBLIC FC 0 (REPLAY)
Bryan Olivera’s early goal held up as LA Galaxy II dethroned reigning USL champion Sacramento Republic FC, 1-0, at Bonney Field in Sacramento, Calif.
Olivera scored on a penalty kick in the 13th minute after Jack McBean was hooked on the shoulder by Sacramento’s Emrah Klimenta while the two were going after a cross from the right flank by Oscar Sorto.
Olivera deposited the shot into the top right corner, leaving goalkeeper Dominik Jakubek no chance to do anything about it.
With the win, the Galaxy II will make a short drive to Irvine, Calif. on Oct. 3 to take on Western Conference’s No. 1 seed, Orange County Blues FC.
COLORADO SPRINGS SWITCHBACKS FC 2, SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC 2 0 (REPLAY)
The Switchbacks got their first taste of postseason victory thanks to a pair of early goals and a clean sheet to defeat Seattle Sounders 2 in Colorado Springs.
Miguel Gonzalez opened the scoring in the 14th minute on an assist by Chandler Hoffman and JJ Greer doubled Colorado Springs’ lead eight minutes later on a service by Nate Robinson off a corner kick.
Devala Gorrick went on to make five saves in the shutout to help the Switchbacks book a ticket to Oklahoma City to take on the No. 2 seed Energy FC on Oct. 4.