The first season of Las Vegas Lights FC action in Downtown Las Vegas finished with a bang. Four loud ones in the second half Wednesday night at Cashman Field. All in a wild 13-minute stretch, to be exact.
Miguel Garduño, Raul Mendiola, Carlos Alvarez and Sammy Ochoa all scored goals between the 71st and 84th minutes to complete a stunning comeback against one of the USL Western Conference’s top outfits, as Lights FC shot past Phoenix Rising FC, 5-2, in front of 5,929 fans in the regular season home finale.
The five goals scored was a season-high for Lights FC.
“We had a talk at halftime – We had to come out and win this game,” forward Ochoa said. “Last home game, we had to come out strong, so we came out of the locker room with a little fire and put them away.
“That’s what we wanted – A thank you to our fans.”
Despite equalizing with a Juan Carlos Garcia penalty kick after Phoenix scored in the match’s 12th minute, Lights FC found itself trailing Phoenix at halftime, 2-1.
For the fourth time in five matches, Lights FC out-shot its opponent (16-12). The difference was that this time, the ball found the back of the net in a giant wave, as the offensive broke through at the perfect time – on Fan Appreciation Night.
The avalanche started in the 71st minute, when defender Miguel Garduño scored in close in front of the Supporters Section off of an Ochoa assist.
Three minutes later, it was leading scorer Raul Mendiola delivering his 10th goal of 2018 from close range.
In the 79th minute, Carlos Alvarez gave the team some cushion with a 4-2 lead, as Mendiola assisted the team captain’s seventh goal of the season.
The final cherry on top was the most impressive, as an Alex Mendoza cross into the box was scissor-kicked home by Ochoa, who ran to celebrate with the fans after scoring his eighth goal of the year.
“We owed everything to ourselves and the fans – Mostly to the fans,” Alvarez said. “It’s a good victory, and leaves a good taste in our mouths. They deserved this. They’ve been behind us the whole season, and this was the only way we could repay them.”
Also big in the match was Las Vegas native Thomas Olsen in goal, who was making his third straight start. He made several key saves, finishing with seven on the night against nine shots on goal.
The night concluded with the team hanging around on the pitch to take pictures and sign autographs for the fans who showed up for what the team hopes will be a great launching point into Year Two in DTLV, beginning in February 2019.
Lights FC now hits the road to conclude its inaugural regular season on Saturday night, when it faces Sacramento Republic FC at 7:30 p.m. That match can be seen locally on myLVTV, and will stream nationwide on ESPN+.