Nazmi Albadawi Scores Game-Winner in 89th Minute for North Carolina FC
Cary, NC - North Carolina FC bounced back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Memphis 901 FC at WakeMed Soccer Park on Sunday night, scoring three goals in the second half to earn the victory. Conor Donovan and Hadji Barry recorded a goal apiece, their first goals for NCFC and captain Nazmi Albadawi netted the game-winning goal in the final minutes of the match.
"This team is resilient. We keep going. We do not give up. That's something I love about this group," Albadawi said in a post-game interview. "We know the results have not been great but we do not give up. Today could be a huge turning point for us. It was a result we needed."
Memphis found the net first in the 24th minute when they were awarded a corner kick. Defender Marc Burch took the kick, finding the head of forward Cal Jennings. Jennings scored to give Memphis a 1-0 lead. Later, in the 35th minute, Jennings scored a second time to record the brace and extend Memphis' lead to 2-0.
As the first half wound down, NCFC fought to find the goal that would cut Memphis' lead in half. In the 41st minute, Albadawi intercepted a header by the Memphis defense, settling the ball and firing a shot that flew just over the crossbar.
Early into the second half, NCFC found their chance to edge into Memphis' lead on a corner kick. Dre Fortune took the corner, lofting the ball into the mix of NCFC and Memphis players. After a scramble in front of the net, the ball was cleared to the feet of Donovan, who buried a close-range shot to score his first goal for NCFC and render the score 2-1.
Building from the momentum of Donovan's goal, NCFC was on the attack once again. Robert Kristo dribbled the ball towards the right corner, driving in a cross that found the feet of Barry. The forward slipped the ball past Memphis goalkeeper Jimmy Hague, scoring the equalizer and his first goal for NCFC in the 58th minute.
In the hunt for a game-winning goal, NCFC continued to press Memphis' defense. In the 89th minute, Fortune played a pass into space for Steven Miller, who took the ball deep into the left corner of the field. Turning on the ball, Miller placed a near-perfect cross over the penalty spot. Albadawi ran onto the pass, driving a one-touch shot into the lower 90 and giving NCFC the upper hand late into the match, 3-2.
Looking Ahead: North Carolina FC will remain at home to face off against the Charlotte Independence at WakeMed Soccer Park on Saturday, September 19 at 7 p.m. ET.
North Carolina FC Youth products DJ Taylor, Nazmi Albadawi, Dre Fortune and Conor Donovan started the match. Dre Fortune and Alex Comsia came into the game as substitutions.
Conor Donovan and Hadji Barry scored their first goals for NCFC.
Robert Kristo and Steven Miller each earned an assist. The assist was Miller's 20th all-time assist for North Carolina FC.
NC (4-4-2): Alex Tambakis; DJ Taylor, Sam Brotherton, Conor Donovan, Akeem Ward; Manny Perez (Alex Comsia, 90'), Pecka (Dre Fortune, 46'), Nazmi Albadawi ©, Ben Speas (Graham Smith, 63'); Hadji Barry (Steven Miller, 84'), Marios Lomis (Robert Kristo, 46')
Subs Not Used: Danielle Proch, Paulo Pita
MEM (4-4-2): Jimmy Hague; Rece Buckmaster, Marc Burch ©, Zach Carroll, Raul Gonzalez (Michael Reed, 74'); Leston Paul (Jean-Christophe Koffi, 67'), Tommy McCabe, Duane Muckette, Matt Hundley; Rafa Metzingen (Brandon Allen, 66'), Cal Jennings (Keanu Marsh-Brown, 55')
Subs Not Used: Jim Barkei, Liam Doyle, Jose Baxter
NC: Conor Donovan (Unassisted, 55'), Hadji Barry (Robert Kristo, 58'), Nazmi Albadawi (Steven Miller, 89')
MEM: Cal Jennings (Marc Burch, 24'), Cal Jennings (Raul Gonzalez, 36')
NC: Hadji Barry (30'), Akeem Ward (65')
MEM: Zach Carroll (45')
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