First-time US Open Cup entry Oklahoma City Energy U23s moved on to the Second Round of tournament play with a 4-2 penalty kick victory over Tulsa Athletic after a 1-1 draw on Wednesday night at the University of Tulsa’s Hurricane Track & Soccer Complex.
Oklahoma City’s Matt Puig scored in regulation and in penalty kicks, but it was Tulsa goal scorer Declan Fitzpatrick that saw his chance in kicks sail high to end the game.
The first half was an open-ended and exciting affair, as both teams hit the ground running. Oklahoma City maintained a slim edge over Tulsa for most of the half. Both clubs played a physical first half, with Oklahoma City’s Noah Keats earning a yellow card for a piece of physical play. Tulsa came back with a surge of offense, but were unable to capitalize thanks to some fantastic goal keeping by OKC’s Eric Dick. Tulsa’s goalkeeper Michael Kluver was also in top form, making several important stops. Oklahoma City eventually found the back of the net near the end of the first half through Matt Puig, who scored an unassisted goal in the 44th minute of play.
The second half began with a much slower pace as Oklahoma City sat back in possession and Tulsa seemed unwilling to push. As time marched on, Tulsa slowly found their feet and by the middle of the second half they were knocking on the door for an equalizer.
Dick was an absolute beast in the second half, making numerous saves to deny Tulsa the goal they so desperately craved.
Eventually Tulsa found a crack in OKC’s defenses and managed to score a tremendous equalizer from Fitzpatrick. After the equalizer, the game accelerated to a frantic pace, but neither side was able to push ahead.
Both clubs spent all their substitutions during regulation, so a slowing of pace was perhaps inevitable as the rain came down on extra time. Tulsa’s Gustavo Vargas earned the first yellow card of extra time as tempers began to wear thin. Tulsa looked the more aggressive side, but neither were able to break through during the first half of extra time. The second half of the period proved to be a muddy and slog-filled with cramps and missed opportunities. This match would be decided by penalty kicks.
The rain stopped falling as though in recognition of the gravity surrounding the moment. The Energy were first up, and Jacob Van Compemolle scored the first goal. Tulsa’s Santiago Riveros attempted to answer, but Dick proved the better man once again by saving the shot. Caio Ruiz doubled OKC’s penalty lead, but this time Tulsa answered back through Rollie Rocha to make it 2-1. Noah Keats netted penalty number three for the Energy, and Joe Garcia did the same for Tulsa to make it 3-2.
Puig, the Oklahoma City goal scorer, stepped up to score penalty number four. In an almost poetic fashion, Tulsa’s Fitzpatrick stepped up to take Athletic’s fourth penalty. Fitzpatrick buckled under the pressure, sending his penalty well above the target.
The Oklahoma City Energy U23s will face the Tulsa Roughnecks on May 17.