Red Bull II suffered its fifth shutout this season. (Photo courtesy of Red Bull II)
CARY, N.C. – Facing the highest-scoring offense in the USL Championship Eastern Conference, playoff-bound North Carolina FC flipped the script Saturday night and recorded a 2-0 win over Red Bull II at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
North Carolina handed NYRBII its fifth shutout of the season while recording its ninth clean sheet.
Goals by forwards Donovan Ewolo and Robbie Kristo secured NCFC’s second consecutive victory and 10th overall at home this season, as head coach Dave Sarachan’s team improved to 15-9-8 snf 53 points. With two matches remaining in the regular season, NCFC holds seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
“I’m very pleased with the commitment of our 11 guys to keep a clean sheet,” Sarachan said. “That was important tonight and they did. It was a real, kind of a playoff-feel type game, where one play could swing it one way or the other. We beat a very good team tonight.”
North Carolina goalkeeper Alex Tambakis matched his season-high with six saves, two of which kept NYRB II scoreless in the game’s opening stages.
Instead, it was NCFC that struck in the seventh minute. After receiving a diagonal, cross-field pass from center back Alex Comsia, midfielder Manny Perez made a run on goal and was dragged down by NYRB II’s Preston Kilwien, earning a penalty kick.
Moments later, Ewolo stepped up to the spot and saw his kick saved by goalkeeper Evan Louro. Ewolo collected the rebound and found the back of the net for his eighth goal this season
Throughout the first half, both teams exchanged a series of scoring chances, and it was midfielder Ben Speas who nearly doubled NCFC’s advantage three minutes into stoppage time, forcing a save by Louro.
NCFC started the second half the same way it did the first with another quick goal. This time it came through Kristo, who’s made a habit of scoring at WakeMed Soccer Park in recent weeks. Set up by midfielder Nazmi Albadawi, Kristo finished at the near post for his eighth goal of the year, making it a 2-0 game.
From that point on, the NCFC defense continued to stymie an NYRB II attack with plenty of firepower in forwards Tom Barlow and Mathias Jørgensen.