CARY, N.C. (April 7, 2018)– Despite a dominating final half, North Carolina FC fell 1-0 to the Indy Eleven on a rain-soaked Saturday night at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park. The rainy and windy conditions played a big part in the contest, as both sides struggled when facing the wind and rain.
"Tough conditions weather-wise," said North Carolina FC Head Coach Colin Clarke. "I thought the first half was sort of back and forth as people tried to find their feet early in the game. We gave up a poor goal that was a result of poor play in the back and that made it tough. I think our response from there, once we settled down, was very very good. We deserved at least one point from the game, if not three.”
Indy started the night with the wind at their back and took advantage of an early chance to go up 1-0. Justin Braun pounced on a loose ball in Indy’s attacking half. The forward found Tyler Pasher free on the left flank who finished his shot for the opening goal.
Despite fighting against the wind and the rain, NCFC nearly found the equalizer throughout the opening half with shots from Daniel Rios. However, both shots from the forward bounced off the crossbar to deny NCFC.
Following the break, North Carolina FC went on the attack and threatened the Indy goal for the majority of the second half. NCFC had opportunities throughout, but its best chance came in extra time when Rios was pulled down in the box to earn a penalty. However, Kyle Bekker’s shot was saved and Indy escaped with all three points.
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NCFC will have a big road match next weekend, as the club travels west to face the Charlotte Independence. The heated in-state rivalry has blossomed over the last few years with annual Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches. While the clubs will play its first ever league match against each other, the rivalry goes much deeper, dating back to 1993 when Charlotte and Raleigh faced off in professional soccer between the Raleigh Flyers and Charlotte Eagles.
North Carolina FC Youth Academy product Dre Fortune earned the start in the midfield, the Raleigh N.C., native started and played 86 minutes.
In addition to Fortune, three other players with North Carolina ties started for NCFC – Greenville, N.C. native Michael Harrington, Winston Salem, N.C. native and team co-captain Austin da Luz and long-time Rocky Mount, N.C. resident Futty Danso. Additionally, Steele – A Clayton, N.C., native and former NCFC U-23 player was available for selection off the bench but did not make an appearance.
Former NCFC players Matt Watson and Brad Rusin featured for the Indy Eleven, while former NCFC head coach and current Indy head coach Martin Reenie also returned to Cary for the match. Ben Speas, a former UNC-Chapel Hill player, also returned to Cary. Speas starred for the Tar Heels in 2011 and scored the game-winning goal in the national title game for UNC.
NCFC (4-5-1): Alex Tambakis; Michael Harrington (Marios Lomis,89’), Aaron Guillen, Futty Danso, Steven Miller; Austin da Luz©, Marcel Kandziora (Donovan Ewolo, 69’), Graham Smith, Dre Fortune (Bernhard Luxbacher, 86’), Kyle Bekker; Daniel Rios
Subs not used: Austin Guerrero, Wuilito Fernandes, Cameron Steele, Peabo Doue
IND: (4-4-2): Owain Fon Williams; Brad Ring, Ayoze Garcia, Carlyle Mitchell (Brad Rusin, 90’), Karl Ouimette; Tyler Pasher, Nico Matern, Matt Watson ©, Nathan Lewis (Zach Steinberger, 27’); Soony Saad, Justin Braun (Ben Speas, 67’)
Subs not used: Jordan Farr, Seth Moses, Juan Guerra, Amess Amankona
IND: Tyler Pasher (Justin Braun 15’)
NCFC: Marcel Kandziora 36’, Graham Smith 54’, Kyle Bekker 78’
IND: Carlyle Mitchell 37’, Owain Fon Williams, 72’
NCFC: Aaron Guillen 90+'
IND: Karl Ouimette 90+’