CARY, N.C. (May 22, 2018) – North Carolina FC navigated past a skilled amateur team for the second time in the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The team is moving on to the competition's fourth round following Tuesday’s third-round 4-1 victory over the Ocean City Nor’easters at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Four different players scored in the win, including forward Marios Lomis and midfielder Austin da Luz, who each recorded assists as well.
With the victory, NCFC is guaranteed a matchup with an MLS side in the fourth round of the Open Cup. That match will be played on either June 5 or June 6, with the opponent and venue to be announced on Thursday, May 24.
“Great result,” NCFC head coach Colin Clarke said. “We’re moving on to the next round – that’s the main thing. Started out well, got our goal and then gave up a poor one. We settled, and at halftime, 2-1 up, it was just go get the next goal and go from there.”
Facing an Ocean City team that scored two goals within the opening seven minutes of its second-round upset win of the Charlotte Independence last week, NCFC knew getting off to a good start would be crucial.
Clarke’s team did just that in the eighth minute when Lomis opened up the scoring with a nifty goal with the outside of his foot.
Positioned out on the left flank, da Luz sent in a precise cross aimed for Lomis, who made a near-post run. With a deft redirect, Lomis sent the ball between the legs of Ocean City goalkeeper Alec Smir and into the net.
Not long after, in the 17th minute, the Nor’easters responded with a goal of their own. After a scramble for the ball in the box, Ocean City’s Uros Ilic let loose on a shot that took a deflection before finding the back of the net.
Not discouraged by Ocean City’s swift response, NCFC offered one of its own to retake the lead in the 25th minute, and it was da Luz doing the scoring on this occasion.
After midfielder Bernhard Luxbacher gathered possession out wide to the right of the 18-yard box, da Luz snuck past the Ocean City back line and headed home Luxbacher’s cross to put NCFC ahead 2-1.
Becoming increasingly settled defensively as the game progressed, NCFC took a one-goal lead into the halftime break.
Looking to pad its lead, NCFC added a third goal in the 66th minute thanks to clever link-up play from midfielder Dre Fortune and Lomis. With a lot of room to work with in transition, da Luz offered a service to Fortune, who dummied and let the pass roll to Lomis. Lomis quickly returned the favor and Fortune finished from close range, scoring his first goal of the season to make it a 3-1 game.
NCFC added one more goal for good measure in the 83rd minute, as forward Donovan Ewolo found himself in the right place at the right time. Making a run toward goal as right back D.J. Taylor fired a shot, Ewolo inadvertently redirected Taylor’s effort past Ocean City goalkeeper Alec Smir. The goal was Ewolo’s first for the club.
North Carolina FC will remain at home for a USL match against Atlanta United 2, reigniting a soccer rivalry between the two cities that dates back to 1998. NCFC will face Atlanta on Friday, May 25 at 7 p.m. at Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park. Tickets are available online, over the phone at 919-459-8144 or in person at the Coastal Credit Union Box Office. The night will be Military Appreciation Night and will feature exclusive merchandise and ticket packages. Click here for more details.
While Fortune’s 66th-minute goal gave NCFC some breathing room, the swiftness of NCFC’s reply following Ocean City’s first-half equalizer was pivotal. Coming within eight minutes of Ilic’s goal for the Nor’easters, da Luz’ header zapped any momentum the visitors gained and settled NCFC down.
NCFC has scored four-plus goals in four of its last five Open Cup wins dating back to 2016.
They Said It:
“It’s what it’s all about for this club right now. To showcase our ability to not only play at that level, but to put on a show in this stadium, in this town, and fill it up. And bring in fans who might not normally come out to games and show them what it’s all about.” – Austin da Luz on NCFC earning the opportunity to face an MLS opponent in the fourth round of the Open Cup.
–With the win, NCFC improved to 21-10 all time in the Open Cup.
–NCFC has scored multiple first-half goals in three consecutive home matches.
–Marios Lomis has now scored three goals in his last three games.
–Through two Open Cup matches, Bernhard Luxbacher has one goal and one assist.
–Both of Austin da Luz’s goals this season have been headers.
–Michael Harrington, who won the 2012 Open Cup with Sporting Kansas City, made his first start in this year’s tournament, playing the first half before being replaced by Futty Danso.
NCFC (4-5-1):Austin Guerrero; Aaron Guillen, Michael Harrington (Futty Danso, 46’), Connor Tobin © , Steven Miller; Austin da Luz, Dre Fortune (Donovan Ewolo, 77’), Marcel Kandziora, Kyle Bekker, Bernhard Luxbacher (DJ Taylor, 73’); Marios Lomis
Subs not used: Alex Tambakis, Peabo Doue, Graham Smith, Cameron Steele
OC (4-4-1-1): Alec Smir; Uros Ilic, Samuel Jones ©, Williams N’Dah, Michael Barrow; Matteo Bennati, Liam Bennett (Simone Raiola, 72’), Kyle Gurrieri, Daniel Lasarte (Spencer Patton, 56’); Deri Corfe; Fredlin Mompremier (Jacob Labovitz, 80’)
Subs not used: James Brett, George Knight, Abdul Mansaray, Joseph Korb
NCFC: Marios Lomis (Austin da Luz, 8’), Austin da Luz (Bernhard Luxbacher, 26’), Dre Fortune (Marios Lomis, 66’), Donovan Ewolo (DJ Taylor, 83’)
OC: Uros Ilic (unassisted, 17’)
NCFC: Dre Fortune 76’
OC: Uros Ilic 53’, Michael Barrow 58’, Jacob Labovitz 84’