COSTA MESA -- It's always a feisty matchup when Santa Ana and Orange Coast get together for a men's soccer match and Tuesday's edition at the OCC Soccer Complex was no exception.
In a hard-fought contest filled with skilled scoring opportunities, it was OCC goalkeeper Thiago Lino Da Costa who earned the praise of both teams following the Pirates and Dons 1-1 draw.
Da Costa came up with 10 big saves, including a big penalty save stop in the final minutes of the match that preserved the draw and earned a hard-fought point for the Pirates (3-5-2, 1-3-1 in Orange Empire Conference). On the other side of the equation, it was another frustrating result for a Dons squad that is now winless in four OEC matches (0-1-3) after starting the season 4-0.
Both teams went back and forth on each other early on, trying to grab that early lead, but score remained 0-0 for most of the first half. The Dons, who outshot Coast 10-6 in the opening half (and had seven corner kick opportunities in the first half), finally took advantage of a set play as a corner off the foot of Abel Bautista found the foot of a charging Agustin Barajas, who banged in the one-timer to put SAC up, 1-0 in the 40th minute.
Coast kept applying the pressure to the Dons in the second half and in the 69th minute, the Pirates evened the score. A nice outlet pass from Meven Anglade to Vitor Gameiro got OCC into SAC territory and the sophomore midfielder sent a perfect cross-field pass to teammate Luis Anaya, who found the back of the net. The goal snapped a 371-minute scoreless drought for the Pirates, who last found the net back on Sept. 11 against Santiago Canyon.
In spite of the offensive opportunities for both teams the rest of the way, it appeared that the score was destined for a 1-1 draw, until the 89th minute, when a Dons player was fouled inside the Coast goal area, resulting in a penalty shot opportunity.
On the PK attempt, Da Costa, who had already notched five point-blank, goal-saving stops in the match, went up against SAC's Jesus Nunez, the conference's leader in goals with eight heading into the match.
Nunez started to the left of the ball, then, switched to the right as he approached his shot, but Da Costa remained calm and timed his dive to the right perfectly, stopping Nunez's attempt into the lower-right corner of the goal, keeping the match tied with just seconds remaining.
Coast will return to action on Friday at Cypress College before returning to the OCC Soccer Complex on Friday, Oct. 5 against Norco. Both matches begin at 3 p.m.