While the rain might have held off on Wednesday night, the drama didn’t as the Charlotte Eagles won 3-2 against the Myrtle Bay Mutiny in overtime.
With the win, the Eagles advance to the Second Round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup in their first game as an amateur club. They were a professional team in the USL from 1993-2014 until dropping down to the Premier Development League prior to the 2015 season.
It was Charlotte that would have both the first and last word scoring in the 49th and 59th minutes, both put away by Jamie Siaj the junior from Pfeffer University. Both goals were assisted by Charlotte native Tresor Mbuyu.
Just a few minutes later, midfielder Santi Moar almost put the game away making it 3-0, but couldn’t find full contact with Mbuyu’s cross. The miss would come back to haunt the Eagles, as Ryan Arambula found himself with the ball at his feet after a scuffed clearance and had no problem putting it past Will Pyle and into the net.
Charlotte didn’t make it any easier for themselves on what was essentially the next play of the game, with Cam Boytes earning himself a straight red card for taking down a streaking Tobenna Uzo. The Eagles defense would hold strong for 20-plus minutes until the dying breaths of added time when Jon Ander Ibarrondo scored an absolute golazo from 25 yards out, taking a quick restart from a free kick, marching it up 30 yards by himself with no pressure and gave Pyle absolutely no chance and keeping the ball out.
The referee would call an end to the ninety-minutes just seconds after the Eagles restarted the match, all of a sudden tied up 2-2 and down a man.
When extra time began, it was obvious both teams were pushing hard for a winner. Even down a man, the Eagles played a tough, on the ground possession game. In the end however, it would be from penalty spot that Charlotte would earn their winner and even then it wasn’t with drama.
In the 109th minute, Eagles midfielder Marco Micaletto played a lovely give-and-go sequence with a teammate to get into the box where Jeremy Bonyaa took him down, heard the referee’s whistle blow and point to the spot. Micaletto took the ball himself and fired home a shot to the keeper’s right, but the ball bounced off the bottom pole of the goal frame and for a few seconds the entire stadium thought the shot had hit the post and not gone in. After a few seconds of staring at the field waiting for someone to say something, it was soon realized that the ball had in fact gone completely into the goal and the home team was ahead once more, 3-2.
After the winning goal, the Mutiny would pile and pile on pressure, throwing men forward at the depleted Eagles side, but Pyle and his defense kept any and all attacks away from the net until the final whistle blew.
“It’s really exciting to see the character of the group,” said Eagles head coach David Dixon. “They showed a lot of heart to pull back into the game. I think we gave up an easy goal and then to have a screamer right at the end, it’s really hard to bounce back from that. I think we’ve got a good group and I’m excited to keep going.”
The Eagles will move on to Round 2 where they will host the USL’s Charlotte Independence, the club that took their place when they left the league. They will square off on Wednesday, May 18 at the Charlotte Christian School at 7 p.m. ET.
Zach Hall is your friendly neighborhood soccer fan with a blog, based in Charlotte, NC. He runs CrownTownSoccer.com and hosts the Crown Town Cast – the only Charlotte soccer focused podcast in the whole wide world. Find him on Twitter, @crowntownsoccer.