USL Championship soccer Torero Stadium
SD Loyal had a lot to celebrate Saturday – a win, thanks to goals by Evan Conway, left, and Jackson Kasanzu, center, and a return to the playoffs. Photo credit: sdloyal.com

San Diego Loyal SC secured a spot in the USL Championship postseason for a second-consecutive year with a 3-0 win against Phoenix Rising FC Saturday at Torero Stadium.

Evan Conway, Kyle Vassell and Jackson Kasanzu each found the back of the net to provide the fireworks in the second half.

The win breaks a three-match losing streak and adds three more points to bolster the Loyal’s position in the standings. At 17-9-4, with 55 points, the team remains in second place behind San Antonio FC, the only other Western Conference team to have made it to playoffs so far.

The rowdy and vibrant crowd erupted when Conway opened the scoring in the 54th minute, heading in a long cross from Tumi Moshobane near the right post. It was Conway’s 9th goal of the season.

“That kinda opened the game up from there and we really needed that,” the forward said.

In the 64th minute, it was a Phoenix (9-15-5, 32 points) defensive miscue that led to SD Loyal’s next goal. Vassell gave his team a 2-0 lead when he sent in a ball with his chest after pressuring Phoenix goalkeeper Benjamin Lundt as he tried to catch an Andrew Carleton shot that bounced off the crossbar.

The ball slipped out of Lundt’s hands and Vassell was there to put away his 13th goal of the season.

The Kasanzu goal came after Lundt blocked a Alejandro Guido penalty kick. Kasanzu got a piece of a Jack Blake corner kick with his head and bounced it into the net for the defender’s first as a professional.

SD Loyal hits the road to try to secure a home playoff match when it visits the Las Vegas Lights on Sept. 24 in another Western Conference match.



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Ellen Bullock