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North Carolina FC Falls on Road to Nashville SC

By NCFC Communications, 10/12/19, 10:45PM EDT

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Oct. 12, 2019) – Despite a strong second-half effort and a good showing by goalkeeper Alex Tambakis, North Carolina FC fell to Nashville SC 2-0 Saturday evening at Nissan Stadium. 

With the loss, NCFC, which has already clinched a spot in the USL Championship Playoffs, is now 15W-10L-8D (53 points) with one game in the regular season remaining. NCFC will host Saint Louis FC in the regular-season finale on Saturday. Oct. 19. 

As a result of Saturday’s game, NCFC will host a playoff match at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park on Wednesday, Oct. 23, with the opponent and time to be determined. Ticket information will be announced on Monday. 

Despite the NCFC defense remaining solid for much of the night and Tambakis making five saves, Nashville was able to secure its 19th win of the season through goals by Ropapa Mensah and Lebo Moloto, respectively. 

Following a series of eye-catching saves by Tambakis, Nashville finally found a way through the Greek goalkeeper as Mensah headed home Moloto’s corner kick in the 32nd minute to put the hosts ahead 1-0. 

After the halftime break, NCFC head coach Dave Sarachan’s group created the better of the chances and nearly equalized in the 49th minute thanks to midfielder Ben Speas. Free in space, Speas fired a well-hit shot at the edge of the 18-yard box, which Nashville goalkeeper Matt Pickens initially spilled before recovering. Shortly after, NCFC forward Donovan Ewolo had a potentially dangerous shot blocked in the box. 

Knocking on the door, quality plays from Speas and forward Robbie Kristo nearly brought NCFC even in the 59th minute. Having received a precise service from Speas, Kristo did well to take a calm first touch and released a left-footed shot that was goal-bound until Nashville’s Forrest Lasso deflected it. 

Against the run of play, Nashville made it a 2-0 game in the 70th on a header by Moloto. 

Despite strong showings by second-half substitutes Justin Rennicks and Marios Lomis, NCFC couldn’t find a goal and Nashville saw out the two-goal win. 

Notes 

-As a result of Saturday’s match, NCFC will host a playoff match at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park on Wednesday, Oct. 23, with the opponent and time to be determined. Ticket information will be announced on Monday. 

– Nashville head coach Gary Smith was ejected from the match in the 51st minute. 

– NCFC split the regular-season series with Nashville. 

– NCFC’s youth-to-pro pipeline was fully featured on Saturday as NCFC Academy product DJ Taylor was named in the starting lineup, as was former NCFC U23 standout Alex Comsia. Caleb Duvernay, who played for both the Academy and NCFC U-23, appeared as a second-half substitute. 

– Justin Rennicks, Marios Lomis and Caleb Duvernay appeared as second-half substitutes for NCFC. Lomis, who previously suffered an ankle injury, made his first appearance since May 24. 

– NCFC goalkeeper Alex Tambakis made five-plus saves for the seventh time this season. 

Looking Ahead 

NCFC returns home for its regular-season finale as it hosts Saint Louis FC on Saturday, Oct. 19, at 7:00 p.m. ET for Fan Appreciation and Hamilton Night. The club will also honor the career of captain Austin da Luz, who is retiring following the season. For tickets and information please visit www.NorthCarolinaFC.com or call the Coastal Credit Union Box Office at 919-459-8144.

Box Score:

NSH (4-2-3-1): Matt Pickens; Justin Davis, Forrest Lasso ©, Jimmy Ockford, Darnell King; Bolu Akinyode, Matt LaGrassa; Alan Winn (Kharlton Belmar, 73’), Lebo Moloto (Derrick Jones, 85’), Ropapa Mensah (Taylor Washington, 66’); Daniel Ríos
 
Subs not used
: Connor Sparrow, Bradley Bourgeois, Cameron Lancaster, Kosuke Kimura

NCFC (4-2-3-1): Alex Tambakis; Aaron Guillen, Sam Brotherton, Alex Comsia, DJ Taylor; Victor Igbekoyi (Caleb Duvernay, 79’), Graham Smith; Donovan Ewolo (Marios Lomis, 79’), Ben Spes, Steven Miller © (Justin Rennicks, 69’); Robbie Kristo 
 
Subs not used: Darrin MacLeod, Austin da Luz, Duval Wapiwo, Colton Storm
 
Score:
NSH: 2
NCFC: 0

Goals:
NSH: Ropapa Mensah (32’, Lebo Moloto), Lebo Moloto (70’, Taylor Washington)
NCFC: – 

Cautions:
NSH: Darnell King, 55’
NCFC: Sam Brotherton, 3’

Ejections:
NSH: – 
NCFC: – 

Attendance: 9,101