Las Vegas Lights FC equalized late to take a point from Reno.
There have now been three matches in the history of the Silver State Cup. Not a single one has disappointed. First, Las Vegas Lights FC and Reno 1868 FC played to a 1-1 draw in Las Vegas, with a last-second save by JT Marcinkowski. Then, Antoine Hoppenot beat Vegas with a 95th-minute goal last month. Last night, we saw three goals in the final ten minutes to end with a wild 3-3 draw.
Reno’s Brian Brown would open the scoring before the 20-minute mark. But, the hosts lead would not last long. After a lovely flick pass from Daigo Kobayashi, Raul Mendiola blasted a shot past Matt Bersano in the 29th minute.
The next major moment would actually involve a no-goal. Following a positive sequence for the Lights just ahead of halftime, Miguel Garduno fired a header on frame that was stopped by Bersano, but possibly went over the line before a Reno defender could slide in and clear it away from danger. The Las Vegas players and sideline were livid, but the referee stood by the no-goal ruling and there wasn’t a clear enough angle on the broadcast to determine either way.
Antoine Hoppenot, who scored the winner in the second matchup this season, opened the second half scoring in the 55th minute.
Once the clock struck 80 minutes, things got crazy at Greater Nevada Field. Off of a throw-in, Garduno headed the ball to Sammy Ochoa, who headed the ball to Daniel Guzman Jr, who headed the ball into the back of the net. It was a lovely sequence and showcased the creativity the club often brings to set pieces and throws. But, the match would not stay level for long. In the 85th minute, Lindo Mfeka scored what seemed to be the match winner, putting Reno up 3-2. But, as always with Lights’ matches, expect the unexpected. Ochoa, who subbed on the second half, added his second assist of the night when he played a lovely ball across the area to a charging Raul Mendiola. After missing a similar chance in the first half, the winger blasted home the equalizer in the 90th minute.
Unfortunately, despite the late rally to earn the draw, Reno takes home the first annual Silver State Cup due to their one win in between the two draws. It was a quality performance by Lights FC in their first match without El Chelis. They held a rare edge in possession and tallied a whopping 27 shots.
Las Vegas will look to keep their good form going when they face the Western Conference-leading Orange County SC at home on Wednesday. It is Industry Night, so if you work in the service industry, you get a free beer at the Zappos Tailgate when you show your Nevada Work card or T.A.M. card. Kickoff is set for 8 PM at Cashman Field, with the tailgate beginning at 5:30 PM.