Cary, N.C. (July 3, 2019) – North Carolina FC U23 extended its winning streak to three matches with an impressive performance Wednesday night, defeating Wake FC 3-1 at Koka Booth Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Head coach Tom Harris’ team now sits atop the South Atlantic Division standings with two matches remaining in the USL League 2 regular season, having improved to 7W-5L-0D (21 points) with Wednesday’s victory.
The youth-to-pro pipeline was fully displayed Wednesday, with eight current or former members of the NCFC Youth Academy included in the starting lineup and an additional five featured on the bench. Former Academy standouts Robert Screen, of University of Kentucky, and Jeremy Kelly, of UNC, scored in the win, as did Gabe Mercer, a current Academy player preparing for his freshman season at UNC Wilmington.
After both teams took time to settle into the match, Screen opened up the scoring with an impressive strike from well beyond the 18-yard box. Unchallenged by any defender, Screen confidently stepped into a shot that flew into the upper right corner of the net.
NCFC U23 took a one-goal advantage into halftime, but it didn’t take long for the home team to double the advantage out of the break.
In the 50th minute, 16-year-old left back Adam Armour made a run into the box and set up Mercer, who slid in and poked his effort past Wake FC goalkeeper Nick Cournoyer. Armour, a current Academy member, has also played with the U.S. U-17 Youth National Team.
Perhaps inspired by Screen’s first-half stunner, Kelly made it a 3-0 game in the 59th minute with a long-distance strike, his second goal in as many games.
NCFC U23 goalkeeper Trace Alphin, a 16-year-old Academy player who's been included in the senior team's matchday squad twice this season, started between the posts and kept Wake FC quiet for most of the night, making numerous saves. The visitors didn’t get on the board until the 68th minute, when Francis Eto pulled one back for the visitors.
However, NCFC U23’s advantage was never in doubt, and Harris’ team was able to secure all three points.
Moving forward, NCFC U23 visits Tobacco Road FC on Saturday, July 6, at 7 p.m. at Durham County Memorial Stadium. In the most-recent matchup between the two teams, NCFC U23 defeated Tobacco Road 2-0 in Cary on May 24.
NCFC U23: Trace Alphin; Aidan Foster, David Mejia, Tyler Dressman, Adam Armour; Sergi Nus (Jeremy Kelly, 46’), Gabe Mercer (Luke Hille, 77’), Robert Screen (Yofre Ricardo, 81’); Witt Conger (Alex Rose, 57’), James Kasak (Mauricio Pineda, 46’), Preston Popp (Camden Holbrook, 68’)
Subs not used: Will Pulisic
Wake FC: Nick Cournoyer; Johnny McNeill, Cyrus Raad, Baboucarr Njie (Zach Elston, 79’), Daniel Wright (Justin Stone, 81’), Alex Contreras; Pa-Lieu Ann, Brandon Williamson (Pablo Rodriguez-Benitez, 39’, Tiyi Shipalane ‘63), Nehe Lamtoukou, Colin Daughtry (Ade Taiwo, 59’); Francis Eto (Declan Brose, 75’)
Subs not used: Peter Gilder, Parker Norris
NCFC U23: 3
Wake FC: 1
NCFC U23: Robert Screen (unassisted, 24’), Gabe Mercer (Adam Armour, 50’), Jeremy Kelly (unassisted, 59’)
Wake FC: Francis Eto (Unassisted, 68’)
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Wake FC: –
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