Louisville City’s Cameron Lancaster scored the game’s only goal, a 63rd-minute strike that proved to be the difference-maker.
“To open up with Louisville’s not an easy day,” NCFC head coach Dave Sarachan said. “I think it was a pretty even game today … probably should have been a point for each team, and we would have both recognized that was a fair result. It fell in their favor and we have to regroup for next week.”
Able to keep its shape defensively, NCFC never let Louisville City settle into the game during the first half. While both attacks struggled to break down compact defenses, NCFC had a golden chance to take the lead in the 40th minute, courtesy of forward Robert Kristo.
Positioned near the backpost, Kristo skied high and headed midfielder Nazmi Albadawi’s service on goal, only to see Louisville City goalkeeper Ben Lundt make a one-glove save, tipping Kristo’s effort off the crossbar.
Through the opening 45 minutes, NCFC and Louisville City were equal in shots (five) and shots on target (two), although NCFC consistently created chances down the right flank thanks to midfielder Manny Perez, who troubled Louisville City’s backline with his pace and agility.
As the game progressed in the second half, both defenses remained strong but it was Louisville who found the back of the net in the 63rd minute. Off of a deflected shot, Louisville City’s Lancaster finished from close range for the game’s only goal.
Nonetheless, Saturday’s visitors had to stave off an NCFC attack that included a strong trio of second-half substitutes in forwards Hadji Barry and Daniele Proch and midfielder Dre Fortune. In the end, NCFC never could find an equalizer despite some late pressure.
– Midfielder Nazmi Albadawi captained NCFC for the first time in 2020. Albadawi previously served as the team’s captain in 2016-17.
– NCFC goalkeeper Alex Tambakis made four saves.
– Forwards Hadji Barry and Daniele Proch each made their NCFC debuts as second-half substitutes on Saturday.
– Four products of the NCFC Youth Academy saw the field on Saturday, as Manny Perez, Caleb Duvernay and DJ Taylor each started, while Dre Fortune came off the bench. Also included in the squad was 17-year-old Academy star Luke Hille.
NCFC remains at home and hosts Philadelphia Union II on Saturday, March 14 at 2:30 p.m. For tickets and information, please visit NorthCarolinaFC.com or call the Coastal Credit Union Box Office at 919-459-8144.
NCFC (4-1-4-1): Alex Tambakis; Caleb Duvernay, Alex Comsia, Sam Brotherton, DJ Taylor; Graham Smith (Daniele Proch, 87’); Steven Miller, Ben Speas (Dre Fortune, 74’), Nazmi Albadawi, Manny Perez (Hadji Barry, 64’); Robert Kristo
Subs not used: Conor Donovan, Paulo Pita, Akeem Ward, Luke Hille
LOU (4-3-2-1): Ben Lundt, Pat McMahon, Jimmy Ockford, Wes Charpie, Oscar Jimenez (Akil Watts, 46’); Devon Williams, Napo Matsoso, Corben Bone; Nial McCabe, Brian Ownby (Paolo Del Piccolo, 76’); Cameron Lancaster (Luke Spencer, 87’)
Subs not used: Chris Hubbard, Alexis Souahy, Abdou Thiam, Antoine Hoppenot
LOU: Cameron Lancaster (unassisted, 64’)
NCFC: Robert Kristo, 88’, DJ Taylor 90+3’