Goals scored by #13 Chris Hegardt (11’) and #6 Omar Ciss (45’).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (September 24, 2022) – The Charlotte Independence defeated in-state rival North Carolina FC on Saturday night by a score of 2-1 at American Legion Memorial Stadium. Next, your Jacks are on the road for two straight before returning for their final regular season home match on Saturday, October 15.
“We’ve found a good way of playing and we’ve managed to get results even if the night wasn’t perfect,” Head Coach Mike Jeffries said. “I think that’s a credit to the guys and what they’re putting into it. Hopefully we can continue to push and earn some points.”
After defending a corner kick in the 11th minute, the Jacks were off to the races. Two clearances by #90 Khori Bennett and #6 Omar Ciss led #11 Tresor Mbuyu into the counter attack. He pushed the ball past the North Carolina FC defender and sprinted on to find #13 Chris Hegardt trailing at the back post. The pass came in and Hegardt buried it first-time, top shelf giving Charlotte the early lead by one.
North Carolina FC earned a free kick in the 25th minute which led to a corner kick. #19 Garret McLaughlin wound up taking a shot on the play, but was denied by Captain, #17 Clay Dimick.
Charlotte escaped another NCFC opportunity in the 37th minute after a free kick from #10 Jaden Servania missed the top left corner.
Just before halftime, Hegardt drew a foul on the right wing. His service was cleared away by NCFC but straight to the feet of Ciss who collected the second ball and, from about 30 yards out, hit a first-time strike which barrelled off the bottom of the crossbar and over the goal line for his third tally of the season.
“It was an amazing goal, some people don’t think I can do that but I know I can,” Ciss said. “It was an amazing goal, and I’m happy to help the team win this game because we really need it and it’s helpful for the playoffs.”
The Jacks went into halftime with a two goal lead.
The second half was all about defense for the Jacks. In the 52nd minute, Charlotte conceded a foul deep in their defensive third. The low cross came into the box but was intercepted by #56 Gabriel Obertan. He led Mbuyu with a pass but was stopped at midfield by NCFC.
North Carolina was on the attack again in the 60th minute. This time a cross came in from the left flank. It was #5 Shalom Dutey who, running towards his own goal, managed a clearance up and away to safety.
Charlotte’s best offensive effort in the second half came in the 65th minute when Obertan played a through ball into the feet of Hegardt. He took a couple touches and got a shot off but it was blocked and out of play for a corner kick. The corner, also taken by Hegardt, found the head of Dutey who knocked it down and just wide of the frame.
Obertan was shown a red card in the 79th minute leaving the Jacks with 10 men on the pitch.
Shortly after, Charlotte conceded a penalty kick. North Carolina’s #19 Garrett McLaughlin took the kick and finished it to put NCFC within one.
“It was a hard win, a lot of character there at the end to hold onto the lead,” Jeffries said. “Beginning of the game, we scored a great goal off the counter. It was nice to get the second one right before half. I thought that put us in a good spot.”
The Jacks held on in stoppage time with valiant efforts on defense and a relentless spirit to secure the three points for the Queen City.
“We know Chattanooga is a big game,” Hegardt said, looking ahead to next week. “We’re just going to go out there, give everything we have and do everything possible to get the three points.”
NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE: The Charlotte Independence are on the road next week at Chattanooga Red Wolves SC. The match is set for Saturday, October 1 at CHI Memorial Stadium in Chattanooga, Tennessee. First kick is at 7:30 p.m. All Charlotte Independence home matches can be streamed live at bahakelsports.com.