With the win, NCFC (14W-9L-8D) now has 50 points with three matches remaining in the regular-season and holds seventh place in the Eastern Conference, where the top 10 sides qualify for the postseason.
Saturday’s match had massive ramifications for NCFC and Ottawa, which entered the game in eighth place, just two points behind NCFC.
Despite trailing 1-0 at halftime, head coach Dave Sarachan’s side rallied for three goals in the game’s final 45 minutes to earn a vital victory, as center back Sam Brotherton, forward Robbie Kristo and midfielder Nazmi Albadawi each found the back of the net.
“I think our guys were mentally in it for a good amount of minutes, which is important going down the stretch as we wind the season down," Sarachan said. “Very pleased. Big three points for us.”
Active from the beginning, Ottawa started its night off well and took an early lead in the fourth minute as midfielder Thiago’s header off of a corner kick flew into the far left corner.
NCFC generated its fair share of chances throughout the first half, including midfielder Steven Miller’s diving header in the eighth minute, which was turned away by Ottawa goalkeeper Callum Irving.
With his team down a goal, NCFC goalkeeper Alex Tambakis kept the home side in the game with a brilliant save in the 32nd minute, as he turned away Ottawa’s Hadji Barry with a diving save.
Out of the halftime break, NCFC immediately put the visitors under pressure and evened the match with an emphatic header by Brotherton in the 53rd minute off of a corner kick by midfielder Graham Smith.
Not satisfied only to be on level terms, NCFC continued to push and it was Kristo, a second-half substitute, who supplied the go-ahead goal with help from a fellow sub. Having been played in by midfielder Manny Perez, Kristo put a shot on target that evaded Ottawa’s Irving after taking a deflection, giving NCFC a 2-1 lead in the 82nd minute.
Given a chance to put the match away, NCFC did just that in the 90th minute through midfielder Nazmi Albadawi’s third goal of the season. After receiving a lofted pass from Perez, Albadawi calmly scored from within six yards, making it a 3-1 game.
In possession of a two-goal lead, NCFC secured its ninth home victory of the season.
Fact to Know
NCFC’s 3-1 victory over Ottawa Fury FC marked the first time this season that NCFC trailed at halftime and went on to win.
– NCFC improved to 9W-1L-5D at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
– All three of Sam Brotherton’s goals in 2019 have come off of corner kicks.
– Forward Robbie Kristo’s seventh goal of the season puts him in a three-way tie with Dre Fortune and Donovan Ewolo for the second-most goals on NCFC in 2019.
– NCFC’s youth-to-pro pipeline was on full display Saturday as NCFC Academy products DJ Taylor and Dre Fortune were named in the starting lineup, as were former NCFC U23 standouts Nazmi Albadawi and Alex Comsia. Manny Perez, an Academy product, played as a second-half substitute, while Caleb Duvernay, an alumnus of both the Academy and NCFC U23, was named to the bench.
– Midfielder Nazmi Albadawi’s third goal of the season and 24th of his NCFC career moved him into sole possession of fourth place on the club’s all-time scoring list. Albadawi was previously tied with teammate Austin da Luz.
– NCFC had four shots on target in the second half to Ottawa’s one.
– NCFC has won at least one match in each month of the regular season (March-September). The team has three regular-season matches in October.
NCFC is back at home next Saturday, Oct. 5, at 7:00 p.m. ET as it hosts New York Red Bulls II. Fans are encouraged to participate in NCFC’s food drive, held in conjunction with Aetna and the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. The first 300 fans to donate five canned food items will receive a free ticket to the match. At halftime, NCFC will honor club legends Tiyi Shipalane and Kupono Low. For tickets and information please visit www.NorthCarolinaFC.com or call the Coastal Credit Union Box Office at 919-459-8144.
NCFC (4-1-4-1): Alex Tambakis; Aaron Guillen, Sam Brotherton, Alex Comsia, DJ Taylor; Graham Smith; Steven Miller ©, Dre Fortune (Manny Perez, 70’), Nazmi Albadawi, Ben Speas (Austin da Luz, 83’); Donovan Ewolo (Robert Kristo, 75’)
Subs not used: Darrin MacLeod, Caleb Duvernay, Yamikani Chester, Victor Igbekoyi
OTT (4-3-3): Callum Irving; Dakota Barnathan, Thomas Meilleur, Carl Haworth ©; Thiago Freitas (Chris Mannella, 69’), Maxcime Tissot, Charlie Wars, Jeremy Gagnon-Laparé; Hadjji Barry, Wal Fall (Kevin Oliveira, 74’), Christiano François (Mour Samb, 75’)
Subs not used: David Monsalve, Nana Attakora,
NCFC: Sam Brotherton (Graham Smith, 53’), Robert Kristo (Manny Perez, 82’), Nazmi Albadawi (Manny Perez, 90’)
OTT: Thiago Freitas (Carl Haworth, 4’)
NCFC: Nazmi Albadawi 10’, Aaron Guillen 26’, Dre Fortune 63’, Robert Kristo 83’
OTT: Wal Fall 44’, Jeremy Gagnon-Laparé 45+2’, Maxime Tissot 90+4’