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Switchbacks Beverly Makangila and El Paso’s Matt Bahner both fight for control of the ball before it goes out of bounds during the first half of a game at Weidner Field on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

The Colorado Springs Switchbacks had a golden opportunity to earn a home playoff game and they fell short losing to Orange County SC 1-0 in the USL Championship quarterfinals Saturday night, bringing the club’s season to a conclusion.

Oakland Roots SC knocked top-seeded El Paso Locomotive out of the USL Championship playoffs Friday night, meaning the winner of the Switchbacks contest would host Oakland in the championship semis.

Switchbacks head coach Brendan Burke told Xtra Sports 1300's Ryan Kaufman Thursday that he wanted his team to be aggressive offensively early in the contest and Colorado Springs was just that in the first 45 minutes. Aided by an 11th-minute red card to Orange County SC defender Robert Kiernan, who was booked when he pulled down Switchbacks forward Thomas Amang, Colorado Springs employed a high press to bombard their opponent’s back line and goalkeeper Patrick Rakovsky.

Amang had a goal off a pass from fellow forward Hadji Barry in the first half, but he was called offsides.

The Switchbacks forced three corner kicks late in the first half but couldn’t convert any of them into scores.

The game was decided late in the first half. Despite possessing the ball for the majority of the first half, the Switchbacks allowed a short-handed goal from Orange County forward Ronaldo Damus in stoppage time. Damus blasted a strike into the upper left corner of the goal off a play from a throw in.

Colorado Springs produced chance after chance to begin the second half but Orange County was able to slow the pace of play by drawing fouls.

With their season on the line, the Switchback added faster, offensive players in forwards Deshane Beckford and Dantouma Toure for defender Sebasatian Anderson and midfielder Beverly Makangila in the match’s later minutes.

Colorado Springs again forced many opportunities in the 80th minute and later but was turned away every time by Orange County who packed their defensive end with players.

As the final whistle blew, so did the whistle on what was a superb season for the Switchbacks, who scored a franchise high 60 goals this year, many of which came in from of the club’s new home at Weidner Field downtown. The Switchbacks’ postseason match Saturday was the club’s first since 2016.

Ben Currie a member of the Trailheasds SG independent supporters group was at a watch party Jack Quinn’s pub downtown, cheering his team on. He said seeing his team in the USL Championship playoff this year was massive.

“It’s massive, especially with a brand new stadium.,” he said. “Getting into the playoffs...setting records, scoring goals, it’s definitely a fresh pace for the team.”

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