CHARLESTON, S.C. (Sept. 26, 2018) – North Carolina FC was dealt a 2-0 loss on Wednesday night against the Charleston Battery at MUSC Health Stadium. The region’s deep soccer rivalry added another chapter, as Charleston got the better of NCFC with two stoppage-time goals.
Despite the result, NCFC still has everything left to play for. A win over Charlotte on Oct. 13 will clinch the Southern Derby Cup and the side is still just two points away from eighth place – the final playoff spot – with four games left to play.
The chances started to fly early and often for both sides in the entertaining contest. NCFC found the woodwork in the opening 10 minutes. After combination play from Zach Steinberger and Donovan Ewolo broke down the Battery defense, Steinberger had an open shot on goal. While the attempt beat the keeper, Steinberger couldn’t keep his shot down, as it smacked off the crossbar and away from danger.
Steinberger had another chance in the 16th minute with a penalty kick, but his attempt was well read and saved by Charleston goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky.
In the 24th minute, it was Alex Tambakis’ turn to make a play. The goalkeeper showed off his lightning-quick reflexes to turn away Taylor Mueller's header that was bound for the back of the net.
The attacking play began to cool off as the half progressed and the teams entered halftime scoreless.
Following the break, NCFC had a flurry of chances early, but a shot from Kyle Bekker was pushed away and a volley from Aaron Guillen flew over the bar.
The elusive goal continued to evade NCFC as Ewolo sent a free header just over the bar in the 66th minute and Steven Miller’s long-range shot in the 72nd minute went wide.
With time winding down and the game looking set for a 0-0 draw, Charleston snuck by North Carolina FC with two quick goals in added time. The home side took a 1-0 advantage in the 91st minute when Victor Mansaray put a glancing header into the back of the net. Just minutes later, the Battery put any result out of reach for NCFC when Ian Svantesson scored with a shot from outside the box.
North Carolina FC started the same lineup for the second straight match, missing regular starters Daniel Rios and Connor Tobin.
The long and storied professional soccer rivalry between sides from the Triangle and Charleston added another chapter. Raleigh-based clubs still lead the overall series, 18W-13L-4D.
NCFC sits in 10th place in the USL Eastern Conference with 41 points. The side is just two points away from eighth place and Nashville SC.
NCFC's final match of the regular season against Charlotte on Oct. 13 will determine the winner of the 2018 Southern Derby. If NCFC wins the game, it will also win the Southern Derby. If NCFC ties or loses, Charleston will win the Southern Derby. Charleston currently leads the standings with six points, while NCFC has four and Charlotte has two.
CHS (3-4-3): Joe Kuzminsky; Skylar Thomas (Neveal Hackshaw, 88’), Taylor Muller, Leland Archer; Jay Bolt, Tah Arunga, Angelo Kelly-Rosales, Nicholas Rittmeyer; Kotaro Kigashi, Ataulla Guerra © (Ian Svantesson, 73’), Gordon Wild (Victor Mansaray, 75’)
Subs not used: Odisnel Cooper, Vincenzo Candela, O’Brian Woodbine, Ryan Arambula,
NCFC (4-5-1): Alex Tambakis; D.J. Taylor, Aaron Guillen, Wuilito Fernandes, Steven Miller; Austin da Luz ©, Victor Igbekoyi (Dre Fortune, 76’), Zach Steinberger (Tiyi Shipalane, 70’), Graham Smith, Kyle Bekker (Peabo Doue, 84’); Donovan Ewolo
Subs not used: Austin Guerrero, Michael Harrington, Cameron Steele, Marios Lomis
CHS: Victor Mansaray (unassisted, 90+’), Ian Svantesson (Kotaro Higashi, 90+’)