Lights FC's Thomas Olsen (in yellow) and Joseph Patrick Perez combine to break up a second half scoring opportunity against OKC Energy FC at Cashman Field. (CREDIT: L.E. Baskow / Lights FC)
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As the inaugural season for Las Vegas Lights FC draws near a close, another bright spot emerged Saturday night amidst a tough result on home turf.
Making his first career professional start, goalkeeper and Las Vegas native Thomas Olsen made six saves to help keep his club in the match, including a handful of highlight stops in the second half. In the end, Lights FC fell, 1-0, to visiting OKC Energy FC.
"Cash the Soccer Rocker" Bobblehead Night at Cashman Field drew 6,578 fans, who saw Lights FC put forth another strong effort, which unfortunately didn't have any luck mixed in.
"They never stopped tonight, all 95 minutes," Lights FC Head Coach Isidro Sánchez said. "The good, the bad, the shots we missed, we never stopped working. It was risky to make so many (lineup) changes, but it was me being aware of all the players asking for opportunities. I don't just give opportunities to anybody. I feel proud."
With the club playing their third match in eight days, Sánchez inserted several younger players into the Starting XI after evaluating training closely over the past two days.
The team responded with a spirited effort, controlling 55.6% of the match's possession and out-shooting OKC, 25-12.
Several near-misses on target kept the team going, as did a handful of impressive stops by the Bishop Gorman High School grad, who had a large contingent of friends and family in the stands.
"Life is all about being ready all of the time," Sánchez said. "Thomas Olsen, being this hard worker, so mature, he's been ready. I loved his performance. And I loved that tonight, he said 'Oh man, I can do that.' I think he's now a better goalkeeper with more confidence."
Olsen's biggest moment came in the 63rd minute, with the match still scoreless, when OKC got a one-on-one breakaway, with the attacker having nearly 50 yards alone between he and the goal. Olsen showed the discipline that Sánchez noted by sticking back on his line, and shutting down the high-percentage opportunity, bringing the crowd to life late.
OKC would ultimately go ahead in the 73rd minute.
"Obviously for me, it was a dream come true - I've been waiting all season for an opportunity," Olsen said. "I'm a Vegas guy through and through. I had a big cheering section out there. It's unfortunate we didn't come out with a result, but that's soccer. Sometimes the ball just doesn't bounce your way."
Lights FC will have three more chances this season to gain positive results to take into the brief offseason, beginning next Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at San Antonio FC.
The regular season home finale takes place on Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 8 p.m., when Fan Appreciation Night festivities highlight the evening, as Lights FC will host top USL Western Conference outfit Phoenix Rising FC. For full details on Fan Appreciation Night, and to purchase tickets starting at just $15, stay tuned to LightsFC.com.