CARY, N.C. (June 13, 2018) – North Carolina FC concluded a four-match USL homestand in fine fashion Wednesday night by defeating Ottawa Fury FC 4-2 at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
NCFC center back Connor Tobin scored his first goal of the USL season in the win, and in-form strikers Daniel Rios and Marios Lomis each found the back of the net, as did midfielder Steven Miller.
“I thought we thoroughly deserved [the result],” NCFC head coach Colin Clarke said. “We had to work hard to earn it – I can’t even count how many games [the team’s played] in how many days, but it’s been a long, hard stretch, and we needed that one tonight.”
For the second time in just over a month, NCFC opened the scoring through a Tobin goal via a corner kick in the early stages of the game.
Midfielder Kyle Bekker sent in a curling cross that Tobin aggressively pursued before heading it past Ottawa goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau, who had no time to react, frozen in his feet.
In the 30th minute, NCFC doubled its advantage thanks to its leading goal-scorer. Fed an accurate pass from Miller, Rios confidently stepped into a shot from nine yards out, which he slotted into the right corner of the net for his sixth goal of the season.
Avoiding any sort of inclination to sit back on a two-goal lead, NCFC continued to push forward and was rewarded in the 43rd minute when Lomis produced a wonder-goal.
Making a near-post run, Lomis deftly redirected midfielder Austin da Luz’s cross with the outside of his right foot. The arching shot continued to rise and escaped the fingertips of Ottawa’s Crepeau.
Not discouraged by the deficit it faced, Ottawa managed to pull a goal back two minutes into first-half stoppage time with a score from Kevin Oliveira.
However, Miller restored the NCFC lead to three goals with a 57th minute strike, his second goal of the season. Unchallenged, Miller had a go from the edge of the box and let loose on a low-to-the-ground strike that was full of pace and on target.
The visitors continued to fight and scored a second in the 74th minute on an own goal by NCFC right back D.J. Taylor, but NCFC managed to see the result out to clinch the win.
NCFC hits the road this weekend and will take on Nashville SC Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. ET at First Tennessee Park. NCFC is attempting to become the first team to earn a win on the road against Nashville in a competitive match in 2018.
Miller stepped up at two critical junctures for NCFC Wednesday night. In the first half, he did well to slide tackle an Ottawa defender and regain possession before setting up Rios, who put NCFC ahead 2-0.
However, Miller’s biggest moment came early on in the second half. Having seen Ottawa chip away at its three-goal lead with a score right before the half, NCFC knew it needed a good start out of halftime to restore order.
Miller did just that with his 57th-minute goal, one that gave his team more breathing room.
Despite its prolific offensive showing, NCFC depended on Alex Tambakis several times early on, and the goalkeeper delivered. Tambakis, who entered the match with the third-most saves in the Eastern Conference, made 5 saves against Ottawa, four of which came in the first half, keeping NCFC in the lead early on.
They Said It:
“When Austin [da Luz] has the ball in the corner, I know he’s going to give me the ball – he’s going to cross it. So, I just need to come in front of my defender and just tap it in. I scored a similar goal in an Open Cup goal. I hope to score more goals like that.” – Forward Marios Lomis on his 43rd-minute goal.
– Center back Connor Tobin’s game-opening goal was his second of the season and the first of the USL campaign, with his other tally coming against Lansdowne Bhoys in the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in May.
–Forward Marios Lomis has scored six goals in his last eight matches, between USL and Open Cup play.
– Midfielder Steven Miller’s 57th-minute goal was his first since NCFC’s season opener against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on March 17.
– Midfielder Kyle Bekker, the team leader in assists, recorded his fifth of the season on Wednesday.
NCFC (4-4-2): Alex Tambakis; Peabo Doue (Michael Harrington, 34’), Aaron Guillen, Connor Tobin, DJ Taylor; Austin da Luz ©, Graham Smith (Marcel Kandziora, 71’), Kyle Bekker, Steven Miller; Daniel Rios (Tiyi Shipalane, 83’), Marios Lomis
Subs not used: Austin Guerrero, Wuilito Fernandes, Donovan Ewolo, Nelson Blanco
OTT (4-3-3): Maxime Crepeau; Thomas Meilleur-Giguere, Colin Falvey, Nana Attakora, Onua Obasi; Chris Mannella, Jamar Dixon, Kevin Olivera; Steevan Dos Santos, Carl Haworth ©, Adonijah Reid (Maxim Tissot, 69’)
Subs not used: Callum Irving, Kyle Porter, Sergio Manesio, Azake Luboyera, Jimmy Sanon
NCFC: Connor Tobin (Kyle Bekker, 3’), Daniel Rios (Steven Miller, 30’), Marios Lomis (Austin da Luz, 43’), Steven Miller (Daniel Rios, 57’)
OTT: Kevin Olivera (Onua Obasi, 45+), DJ Taylor (OG, 74’)
NCFC: Connor Tobin 46’, Graham Smith 69’, Kyle Bekker 87’
OTT: Nana Attakora 54’, Onua Obasi 79’