Photo: Wilmington Hammerheads
The Wilmington Hammerheads fought back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Charlotte Eagles 3-2 in overtime to advance in the US Open Cup on Tuesday. Luke Mulholland, who had the Hammerheads’ first shot on goal, provided the winning shot to cap a furious comeback in the last third of the game.
This was the third Open Cup meeting between the two clubs in the last six years, and with the victory, the Hammerheads maintain their perfect record, having defeated the Eagles the first two times they played (2006, 2009). Wilmington advances to Round 3 where they will face Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer. The club has reached an MLS opponent in each of the last three trips to the tournament, including a 2009 Third Round upset of the Chicago Fire.
Charlotte controlled the opening 60 minutes, pressuring their in-state USL Pro rivals throughout. They broke through just before the half, as Weston Roberts took a free kick and nailed a shot to the far corner. The pressure continued in the second half, capped off by a Darren Toby goal in the 54th minute.
However, Wilmington refused to give up. Andriy Budnyy answered seven minutes later, taking a ball from newly-subbed Chris Banks and firing a low shot to cut the deficit in half. It was Budnyy’s third goal of the tournament.
The home team continued to pressure, eventually smothering the Eagles for the equalizer in the 78th minute. Jack Avesyan hit a free kick into the box, where Banks headed the ball in to pull the game level. Banks almost grabbed the lead three minutes later, as his header hit the crossbar and bounced out.
The teams fought hard in overtime, with Mulholland’s shot in the 103rd gave Wilmington the edge. The teams traded chances in the second overtime period, but neither would find the back of the net again.
The Hammerheads have a big trip ahead of them next week when they travel to Utah to play Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium next Tuesday at 9:00 PM EDT.
TheCup.us Match MVP: Chris Banks
CHAR: Weston Roberts – 44th minute
CHAR: Darren Toby – 54th minute
WILM: Andriy Budnyy (Chris Banks) – 61st minute
WILM: Chris Banks (Jack Avesyan) – 78th minute
WILM: Luke Mulholland – 103rd minute
Eagles: Reed, Dalby, Moore, Roberts, Bryan, Herrera, Bloom, Guzman, Rife, Toby, Sanchez
Hammerheads: Polak, Riley, Evans, Becerra, Spendlove, Mullholland, Nicholson, Gusman, Avasyan, Budnyy, Noviello (Banks 56)
19′: Guzman (Char)
35′: Noviello (Wilm)
55′: Avesyan (Wilm)
90′: Nicholson (Wilm)
93′: Moore (Char)
94′: Mulholland (Wilm)
109′: Herrera (Char)
Referee: Daniel Fitzgerald
Assistant Referees Larry Stroud, Conor Williams
Fourth Official: Mark Kadlecik