With a 3-0 victory Sunday, the Swope Park Rangers clinched a USL Playoff spot in their inaugural year. A three goal burst in the first half sealed the win over the Oklahoma City Energy and boosted them into a tie for fifth place in the Western Conference.
Swope Park staked out their lead in the first half with goals from Dane Kelly, Mark Anthony Gonzalez and Tyler Pasher and held off the Energy in the second half.
The Rangers jumped in front in the 15th minute when consistent possession resulted in a goal. Gonzalez was found in the midfield as the ball cycled around. The rookie slanted the ball through the defense to Dane Kelly who easily beat the Energy keeper for his fifth goal.
Gonzalez added one of his own in the 24th when Tyler Pasher outraced the Energy defense down the left side. Pasher’s cross split the gap between the Energy defender and goalie to find a sliding Gonzalez who poked it home for to double the lead.
Following the pattern of assist man scoring, Pasher scored his in the 36th minute. From the center circle Captain Christian Duke sliced a pass through the defense to an onrushing Pasher where he slid it Cody Laurendi to make it 3-0.
It was the first win against OKC for the Rangers after having lost three times to them earlier in the season. “Before the game we said that we believe they weren’t that (much) better than us,” Rangers’ head coach Mark Dos Santos explained after the match. “We felt in the three games that we played them, they got the wins but not always was it a fair result.”
The Rangers have been getting stronger through the season and had a good run of form in the previous matches. “Coming into this game we were building with a lot of confidence and not feeling that we were inferior,” Dos Santos said. “So at the beginning of the first half we really wanted to set a tone and little bit of a statement when it comes to that. We came in very well, very focused. Not only did we score three goals but we created a lot of chances so we were totally deserving to come into the halftime with the lead.”
“Overall the most important thing is the three points and the guys deserve it, excellent job by everyone,” Dos Santos added.