CARY, N.C. (July 21, 2018) – North Carolina FC extended its home unbeaten run to four matches and picked up a valuable three points in the USL standings with a 3-1 victory over Toronto FC II Saturday night at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
After falling behind early in the first half, midfielder Austin da Luz, forward Daniel Rios and midfielder Kyle Bekker each found the back of the net in NCFC’s come-from-behind victory.
“Overall, I thought we deserved it [the result],” NCFC head coach Colin Clarke said. “I think a lot of people came here tonight expecting to see us roll them over, but they’re a team that – if you watch them – are good. They’ve been in every game, creating chances, are good in possession. We knew we were going to have to earn it.”
The visitors opened up the scoring in the 20th minute when forward Shaan Hundal headed home a corner kick taken by Kyle Bjornethun. The goal came a minute after NCFC left back Aaron Guillen prevented a goal with a diving block of Toronto’s Aidan Daniels’ shot.
It didn’t take NCFC long to respond, however, with da Luz equalizing in the 28th minute with a header of his own on a corner from Bekker.
Five minutes later, it was Bekker whose headed effort looked destined for goal before Borja Angoitia denied him from point-blank range.
Out of the halftime break, NCFC took its first lead of the night in the 55th minute when Rios converted from the penalty spot. Minutes earlier, the Chivas loanee was making a run on goal when he was taken down in the left side of the 18-yard-box by Toronto defender Lars Eckenrode.
Although Toronto’s Angoitia guessed correctly, Rios’ kick was precisely placed in the left corner with too much pace for the goalkeeper to handle.
Not content to sit on its newfound lead, NCFC struck again in the 61st minute, and Rios was once again involved. This time, the Mexican striker tracked down a ball before it crossed the endline and crossed to Bekker, who slotted his shot just within the left post.
As the second half progressed, the game became increasingly physical, but NCFC was able to secure the result without much trouble.
NCFC stays at home to face the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Saturday, July 28 at 7 p.m. ET at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park. Pittsburgh won the prior match against NCFC 2-0 on July 4.
For quite a while, Toronto looked like a team that believed it could win Saturday night. Even after Rios’ goal, the visitors were only one behind, but Bekker’s 61st-minute strike changed the complexion of the game completely. From there on, NCFC had a padded lead to work with and controlled the rest of the match.
NCFC scored on 60 percent of its shots on target.
They Said It:
“Obviously it’s massive. Anytime you’re playing at home you want to get three points. Just looking at what we did in the first half of the season, we know we can do more. That’s the standard we need to set. Anytime we’re playing at home we need to push for the three points.” – NCFC midfielder Kyle Bekker on upcoming home matches against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Charleston Battery.
– Austin da Luz scored his third goal of the season, the third-most on the team.
– With his assist on da Luz’ goal, Kyle Bekker now has eight assists in 2018, tied for the most in the USL.
– Daniel Rios is third in the league with 10 goals on the season.
– Left back Peabo Doue entered the match as a substitute in the 78th minute, his first appearance since suffering an injury on June 13 against Ottawa.
NCFC (4-4-2):Alex Tambakis; Aaron Guillen, Michael Harrington, Connor Tobin, Dj Taylor (Peabo Doue, 78’); Austin da Luz, Kyle Bekker, Graham Smith, Steven Miller (Wuilito Fernandes, 90+’); Daniel Rios, Donovan Ewolo (Tiyi Shipalane, 24’)
Subs not used: Austin Guerrero, Marcel Kandziora, Dre Fortune, Marios Lomis
TOR (4-5-1):Borja Angoitia; Tim Kubez (Aikim Adrews, 84th), Rocco Romeo, Lars Eckenrode, Kyle Bjornethun ©; Dante Campbell, Gideon Waja (Jordan Faria,66’), Aidan Daniels, Mathew Srbely (Malik Johnson, 66’), Luca Uccello, Shaan Hundal
Subs not used: Rimi Olatunji, Robert Boskovic, Twerique Mohammed, Malyk Hamilton
NCFC: Austin da Luz (Kyle Bekker, 28’), Daniel Rios (Penalty, 55’), Kyle Bekker (Daniel Rios, 61’)
TOR: Shaan Hundal (Kyle Bjornethun, 20’)
NCFC: Michael Harrington 54’, Aaron Guillen 70’, Kyle Bekker 74’
TOR: Rocco Romeo 54’, Dante Campbell 59’