LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (Sept. 21, 2018)– North Carolina FC moved into a playoff position with a dominating 6-1 win over Atlanta United 2 on Friday night at Coolray Field - the club's largest margin of victory this season.
With the win, North Carolina FC’s path to the playoffs becomes clearer. NCFC now has 41 points and sits in eighth place in the USL Eastern Conference – the final playoff spot. The side is level on points with seventh-place Ottawa Fury FC and ninth place New York Red Bulls II.
NCFC’s attack was in great form and took its first chance to go up 1-0 in the second minute with a goal from Donovan Ewolo. The Cameroonian was unmarked in the box when he directed a Kyle Bekker corner kick into the back of the net.
With the assist, Bekker recorded his 11th of 2018, breaking NCFC’s regular-season record for most assists in a single season.
Just minutes later, Atlanta United answered back with a long-distance strike. Alessandro Castro unleashed a 20-yard blast and found the top corner of the net for the equalizer.
However, it wouldn’t take long for NCFC to score again. From there, the team never looked back, scoring four unanswered goals before the first half ended to cap off one of the most impressive first half showings in club history.
In the 16th minute, Ewolo pounced on a poor ball from Atlanta inside the 18-yard box and curled his shot around Atlanta United 2’s Mitch Hildebrandt into the back of the net.
Bekker scored the third NCFC goal in the 29th minute, finishing off a brilliant passing sequence assisted by Austin da Luz.
Four minutes later, Ewolo struck again to complete his first-half hat trick. Ewolo finished the chance from inside the six-yard box, after Zach Steinberger set up the attempt.
In the 42nd minute, it was Steinberger’s turn to score. The midfielder received a long through ball in space from Steven Miller. Steinberger rounded the goalkeeper with one touch and placed his shot in the back of the net for the team’s fifth goal, setting the halftime score.
The second half was mostly quiet until Ewolo notched his fourth goal in the 89th minute off an assist from Dre Fortune. The important result has NCFC in a playoff position for the first time this season.
The 6-1 result is NCFC's largest margin of victory this season.
Donvoan Ewolo scored four goals on the night, including a first-half hat trick.
Kyle Bekker and Zach Steinberger each recorded a goal and an assist in the victory.
Steven Miller, Dre Fortune and Austin da Luz also tacked on one assist each.
With his assist off a corner kick in the second minute, Kyle Bekker broke the club’s regular season record for most assists in a single season with 11, surpassing the previous record set by Nazmi Albadawi in 2016.
NCFC was without normal starters Connor Tobin and Daniel Rios.
This is the second time this season that NCFC has scored six goals in a game.
ATL (4-3-3):Mitch Hildebrandt; Jack Metcalf ©, A.J. Cochran, Andrew Kendall-Moullin, Jon Gallagher; Alessandro Castro, Oliver Shannon, Kevin Barajas (Shawn Nicklaw, 70’); Laurent Kissiedou (Christopher Goslin, 46’), Jackson Conway (Rodolfo, 82’), Lagos Kunga
Subs not used: Paul Christensen, Nicolas Caraux, Devon Sandoval
NCFC (4-5-1): Alex Tambakis; D.J. Taylor, Aaron Guillen, Wuilito Fernandes, Steven Miller; Austin da Luz ©, Victor Igbekoyi (Marios Lomis, 76’), Zach Steinberger (Dre Fortune, 67’), Graham Smith (Peabo Doue, 76’), Kyle Bekker ©; Donovan Ewolo
Subs not used: Austin Guerrero, Tiyi Shipalane, Michael Harrington, Cameron Steele
ATL: Alessandro Castro (Kevin Barajas, 8’)
NCFC: Donovan Ewolo (Kyle Bekker, 2’), Donovan Ewolo (Unassisted, 16’), Kyle Bekker (Austin da Luz, 29’), Donovan Ewolo (Zach Steinberger, 33’), Zach Steinberger (Steven Miller, 42’), Donovan Ewolo (Dre Fortune, 89’)
NCFC: Graham Smith 61’, Victor Igbekoyi 71’