Luis Mora scored the game-winner on home turf as the Los Angeles Wolves (UPSL) held on to defeat Orange County Blues (USL), 4-2 in a penalty kick shootout after a 1-1 draw, Wednesday night at Wilmington (Calif.) Banning High School.
“He lives around the block, the whole community is watching him; He takes the final kick and he buries it,” LA Wolves owner/head coach Yan Skwara said.
Skwara said Mora, a Banning High School graduate, wanted to be the fifth kick taker.
“He wanted it. He played on that field for four years for his high school, and he buries it,” Skwara said. “It couldn’t be more dramatic.”
Mora’s home-town finish punched the Wolves’ ticket to a third-round matchup against fellow UPSL side La Maquina. The winner plays at LA Galaxy (MLS) in the fourth round.
“(La Maquina) beating their opponents handily, I’ll say that,” Skwara said. “We’re not going in, by any means, with any sort of comfort level.”
Miguel Sanchez had a goal in the 72nd minute, and 20-year-old goalkeeper Kifi Kalani made two saves in the shootout win for Wolves, who continue to enjoy their first Lamar Hunt US Open Cup run.
“We have a blend of players and we’re in the (UPSL) playoffs,” Skwara said. “You want to come into any cup scenario in good form, and we are in good form right now. We’re on the rise.”
Sanchez started the shootout with a miss for Wolves, who were down 2-0 before Joey Chica and Gonzo Salguero scored to level.
Jeremiah Eglijie made it 3-2 but it was Kalani’s back-to-back blocks that gave Wolves a real advantage.
“(Kalani) had a (heck) of a game,” Skwara said. “He made two PK saves. That’s what happened.”
Grady Howe equalized in the 77th minute for OC Blues, which still suffered its fourth loss to an amateur side in its last six Cup entries, including its third straight. Blues previously lost to Ventura County Fusion in 2012, Fresno Fuego in 2014 and PSA Elite in 2015.