Ocean City hung in, and even canceled out an early goal with an equalizer in the 17th minute, but North Carolina FC proved to be too much for the Nor’easters as their U.S. Open Cup run ended in the third round with a 4-1 loss in Cary, North Carolina on Tuesday.
After scoring first in both of their previous Open Cup wins (and twice in the first seven minutes against Charlotte Independence last week), it was North Carolina FC that opened the scoring on Tuesday in the 8th minute when Austin da Luz crossed the ball into the box for Marios Lomis, who beat the keeper to make it 1-0.
Playing their fifth straight game away from home, the Nor’easters responded with an equalizer in the 17th minute from center back Uros Ilic, whose volley off a play initially started by a corner kick deflected off Michael Harrington and into the back of the net.
The goal appeared to initially give the visitors momentum as they pushed for another goal, but 10 minutes later it was the home team’s precision making them pay again when Bernhard Luxbacher crossed the ball from the right flank to da Luz, who headed home the eventual game-winner.
Down 2-1 at halftime and the game very much still in reach, the Nor’easters continued to create chances on the counterattack, including a set piece opportunity from 35 yards out that Fredlin Mompremier struck well but couldn’t keep under the bar.
The dagger came in the 66th minute when Andre Fortune linked up with Lomis on a clever play to spring Fortune in the box for a well-taken finish that put the game out of reach. One more goal came for North Carolina in the 83rd minute when forward Donovan Ewolo inadvertedly redirected D.J. Taylor’s shot past Ocean City goalkeeper Alec Smir, which ultimately made the scoreline look a lot more lopsided than the game felt through the first hour.
Nor’easters head coach John Thompson said decision-making was key in the young amateurs seeing their cup run end Tuesday night.
“Tonight was a great learning experience for the boys, showing the difference between the decision making of a seasoned pro and the college level,” Thompson said in a news release. “At times we put together some very good attacks and then reverted to making rookie decisions on the ball in promising situations.”
The lone game on the U.S. Open Cup schedule for Tuesday night, 11 more games will be played tonight, including Penn FC’s match at Richmond Kickers. The Philadelphia Union will join the fray in the next round against an opponent to be determined in the fourth round draw on Thursday.