LOUISVILLE, Ky. (October 9, 2018) –North Carolina FC was dealt a tough 2-1 loss to Louisville City FC on Tuesday night at Louisville Slugger Field.
Despite the loss, North Carolina FC keeps its playoff hopes alive going into the final game of the season. Bethlehem Steel FC and Ottawa Fury FC can still be passed.
NCFC will need to defeat Charlotte on Saturday, and will need Bethlehem Steel to lose its final regular season game against Tampa and Ottawa to draw or lose its game against the Charleston Battery while making up a six-goal differential to advance on the tiebreaker of goals scored.
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North Carolina came out of the gate firing. Shots from Marios Lomis and Kyle Bekker were just off the mark in the opening minutes.
Louisville responded with a run of its own, but a resolute NCFC backline held the home side scoreless – highlighted by a world-class save from Alex Tambakis in the 16th minute.
NCFC finally broke the deadlock in the 38th minute when Daniel Rios notched his 18th goal of the year. Rios completed a run through the box as Steven Miller sent in an accurate cross from the right flank. The striker made no mistake on the finish and tapped in the opening goal with a defender on his hip.
The score line held until the halftime break, but didn’t last long after the restart. Cameron Lancaster scored with a top-shelf strike from nearly 24 yards out in the 47th minute. The goal marked a USL record 23rd on the season for the striker.
NCFC continued to search for a goal as the half wore on, but Louisville turned away serval attacking chances. Notably, Rios was on a breakaway in the 71st minute, but two Louisville defenders chased down the forward to end the threat.
In the 84th minute, Louisville took control of the match as Lancaster scored again. The forward tapped in a ball at the far post that found its way through the NCFC defense.
Despite the team’s best efforts, the equalizing goal wouldn’t come and Louisville took all three points with the win.
The regular season finale will feature the North Carolina Derby between North Carolina FC and Charlotte Independence. The two sides will continue the heated rivalry on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Sportsplex at Matthews. With a win, North Carolina FC will win the Southern Derby Cup.
NCFC Youth Academy products Dre Fortune and DJ Taylor both started for NCFC.
Daniel Rios scored his team-leading 18th goal of the year. He was assisted by Steven Miller.
LOU (4-2-3-1): Gregory Ranjitsingh; Oscar Jimenez, Paco Craig ©, Alexis Souahy, Kyle Smith; Niall McCabe, Jose Carranza (Devon Williams, 46’); Brian Ownby (Sean Totsch, 87’), Ilijia Ilic, George Davis IV (Jonathan Lewis, 73’); Cameron Lancaster
Subs not used: Tim Dobrowolski, Richard Ballard, Shaun Francis, Luke Spencer,
NCFC (4-5-1): Alex Tambakis; Aaron Guillen, Connor Tobin ©, Wuilito Fernandes, DJ Taylor; Dre Fortune (Donovan Ewolo, 73’), Kyle Bekker, Graham Smith, Steven Miller (Nelson Blanco, 90’); Daniel Rios, Marios Lomis (Zach Steinberger, 59’)
Subs not used: Austin Guerrero, Michael Harrington, Victor Igbekoyi, Peabo Doue
LOU: Cameron Lancaster (Paco Craig, 47’, Kyle Smith, 84’)
NCFC: Daniel Rios (Steven Miller, 38’)
LOU: Paco Craig 25’, Oscar Jimenez, 72’
NCFC: Daniel Rios 29’, Kyle Bekker, 61’