Photo courtesy Rob Kinnan / North Carolina FC
CARY, N.C. – Kyle Bekker starred for North Carolina FC as he was involved in all three goals in a 3-0 victory agaisnt Penn FC at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park on Saturday night. Both teams struggled to get a foothold in the opening minutes of the match but after the 15th minute, NCFC started to go for it and had two impressive shots well saved by Penn FC keeper Romuald Peiser. That was a sign of things to come as North Carolina’s Canadian international Kyle Bekker managed a pinpoint cross to find Austin da Luz, wide open to score a simple header. Bekker turned goal-scorer six minutes later as he was able to get his leg on the end of Peabo Doue’s cross, chipping Peiser somewhat unintentionally to double the host's lead. The floodgates were opened at that point and North Carolina made it three just moments later as Bekker’s shot was deflected, which allowed him to square it for Daniel Rios, who simply passed the ball into the back of the net for his fourth goal of the season. The trend continued in the second half as NCFC continued its attacking play with Rios routinely involved up top. Penn FC had a golden opportunity in the 68th minute when Mauro Eustaquio seized on an error and ran through one-on-one with North Carolina goalkeeper Alex Tambakis that saw Eustaquio attempt a chipped finish, but Tambakis leaped at full stretch and hit the ball away from goal. Penn improved in the second half, having much more of the ball as the hosts laid off the gas a bit, but the visitors failed to really trouble Tambakis enough to get back into the match as NCFC coasted to a three-goal victory.
29’ – NC – Austin da Luz (Kyle Bekker)
35’ – NC – Kyle Bekker (Peabo Doue)
37’ – NC – Daniel Rios (Kyle Bekker)
Three Things That Matter:
1. What had previously been a strong defense for Penn FC, which had only allowed three goals all season, struggled in the first half as the visitors conceded three goals in 45 minutes. In the first half, Penn managed a tackle accuracy of just 50 percent, well below its average of 66.39 percent.
2. Having only scored twice all season that trend showed little sign of changing for Penn as it only managed two shots on target in this match. That will give little hope heading forward for the side as it continues to seek its first win of the season as it welcomes a strong Tampa Bay Rowdies side to FNB Field on Friday night.
3. Things have been starting to look good for North Carolina, and it claimed its first USL home win of the season with an explosive first-half display on Saturday. The side is now undefeated in its last four games (2-0-2), and will aim to pick up where it left off when it returns to league action on May 19th when it plays FC Cincinnati.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Kyle Bekker, North Carolina FC – Involved in all three goals, Bekker was all over the park for NCFC all match. Bekker managed a passing accuracy rate of 80.6 percent to go with his goal and two assists while also getting back to block three shots.
North Carolina FC vs. FC Cincinnati – May 19, 7:30 p.m. ET, Nippert Stadium
Penn FC vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies – May 4, 7 p.m. ET, FNB Field