CARY, N.C. – It’s all over for the Ocean City Nor’easters.
The Premier Development League team was eliminated from the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open, dropping a 4-1 loss to North Carolina FC in the thi9rd round at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park Tuesday night.
Four players scored for Carlina, including forward Marios Lomis and former Red Bulls midfielder Austin da Luz, who each recorded assists.
The United Soccer League side is guaranteed a matchup with an MLS side in the fourth round of the Open Cup. That match will be played June 5 or June 6, with the opponent and venue to be announced on Thursday.
“Great result,” NCFC head coach Colin Clarke said. “We’re moving on to the next round – that’s the main thing. Started out well, got our goal and then gave up a poor one. We settled, and at halftime, 2-1 up, it was just go get the next goal and go from there.”
Facing an Ocean City team that scored two goals within the opening seven minutes of its second-round upset win of the Charlotte Independence last week, NCFC knew getting off to a good start would be crucial.
Clarke’s team did just that in the eighth minute when Lomis opened up the scoring with a nifty goal with the outside of his foot.
Positioned out on the left flank, da Luz sent in a cross aimed for Lomis, who made a near-post run. With a deft redirect, Lomis sent the ball between the legs of Ocean City goalkeeper Alec Smir and into the net.
In the 17th minute, the Nor’easters responded with a goal of their own. After a scramble for the ball in the box, Ocean City’s Uros Ilic let loose on a shot that took a deflection before finding the back of the net.
Not discouraged by Ocean City’s swift response, NCFC offered one of its own to retake the lead in the 25th minute as da Luz scored. After midfielder Bernhard Luxbacher gathered possession out wide to the right of the 18-yard box, da Luz snuck past the Ocean City back line and headed home Luxbacher’s cross to put NCFC ahead 2-1.
NCFC added a third goal in the 66th minute thanks to link-up play from midfielder Dre Fortune and Lomis. Da Luz offered a service to Fortune, who dummied and let the pass roll to Lomis. Lomis returned the favor and Fortune finished from close range, scoring his first goal of the season to make it a 3-1 game.
NCFC added a goal in the 83rd minute, as forward Donovan Ewolo found himself in the right place at the right time. Making a run toward goal as right back D.J. Taylor fired a shot, Ewolo inadvertently redirected Taylor’s effort past Ocean City goalkeeper Alec Smir. The goal was Ewolo’s first for the club.