CARY, N.C. (July 28, 2018) – North Carolina FC scored one minute into stoppage time to earn a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
With the win, NCFC (7W-8L-5D, 26 points) has won two consecutive games, and earned at least a point in four straight matches.
“Great night. Great performance,” Clarke said. “What can I say? I was proud of them. They put a lot of work in. We talked about it all week – making this second half of our season, 16 games, and we won the first two. We put a lot of effort in tonight, and I thought they deserved it.”
With a 1-1 draw looking like the most likely result, NCFC midfielder Steven Miller sent in a dangerous ball on a set piece, which Pittsburgh’s Daniel Lynd partially cleared. Unfortunately for the Riverhounds’ goalkeeper, that clearance fell to Wuilito Fernandes, who one-timed his effort into the back of the net, as Pittsburgh suffered its first road loss of the season.
Like the ending, NCFC’s start to the night was also ideal.
Quick thinking on the part of Miller and combination play from midfielder Kyle Bekker and forward Daniel Rios led to NCFC taking an early lead in the 24th minute.
With Pittsburgh caught off guard, Miller took a quick throw in, which gave Bekker room to run with the ball on the left flank. Bekker, one of the USL’s best at setting up teammates, sent in a low cross to Rios, who took his time and curved a shot past Lynd for his 11th goal.
After Rios’ goal, a sound defensive performance and the ability to carefully possess the ball allowed NCFC to take a one-goal lead into halftime. The Riverhounds mustered two shots in the first 45 minutes, none of which were on target, and NCFC had nearly 60 percent of possession.
Out of the break, Pittsburgh enjoyed an extended spell of possession, eventually equalizing through Christiano François in the 57th minute.
From that point on, each team had multiple opportunities to add a second, and NCFC had a great chance come about in the 82nd minute. Already with one goal to his name, Rios nearly doubled his tally when his low-to-the-ground effort from the right edge of the box forced Pittsburgh’s Lynd into a diving save.
As the second half approached its ending, NCFC kept up the pressure and was eventually rewarded when Wuilito Fernandes made perfect contact with the rebound that fell to his feet.
NCFC ends a three-game homestand against the Charleston Battery on Saturday, August 4 at 7 p.m. ET at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
The two teams played to a 1-1 draw in Cary in July in the first of three matches against each other this season.
In the 72nd minute, Pittsburgh’s Kenardo Forbes let loose on a powerful shot from just beyond the 18-yard box, but NCFC goalkeeper Alex Tambakis had it covered, as he moved to his left to get a piece of it.
The save, one of two Tambakis made Saturday, helped keep it a 1-1 game, giving NCFC the chance to score the eventual winner.
Fact to know:
Saturday’s match marked the first time this season NCFC had a lead, lost it, and still went on to win. The last time that happened was Aug. 5, 2017 in a 3-2 victory against Miami FC.
They Said It:
“[The win’s] really important. We started the second half of the season a week or two ago. Now, every game matters, especially the games at home – we’re trying to win every single one of them. Whenever we go away, we try to steal points. If we see a game that we can win away, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.” – Wuilito Fernandes.
NCFC (4-5-1):Alex Tambakis; Aaron Guillen (Marcel Kandziora, 73’), Michael Harrington, Connor Tobin ©, DJ Taylor; Tiyi Shipalane (Donovan Ewolo, 74’), Austin da Luz, Graham Smith, Kyle Bekker (Wuilito Fernandes, 84’), Steven Miller; Daniel Rios
Subs not used: Austin Guerrero, Dre Fortune, Marios Lomis, Peabo Doue
PGH (4-4-2):Daniel Lynd; Ray Lee (Andrew Lubahn, 84’), Tobi Adewole, Joe Greenspan, Jordan Dover; Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Mouhamed Dabo, Kenardo Forbes, Kevin Kerr © (Ben Zemanski, 63’); Romeo Parkes (Kay Banjo, 31’), Christiano Francois
Subs not used: Mike Kirk, Hugh Roberts, Todd Pratzner, Dennis Chin
NCFC: Daniel Rios (Kyle Bekker, 24’), Wuilito Fernandes (Unassisted, 90’+1)
PGH: Christiano Francois (Kay Banjo, 57’)
NCFC: Aaron Guillen 42’