North Carolina FC Earns Narrow 2-1 Victory Against Richmond Kickers at Home

by | May 29, 2022 | USL

A First Half Brace from Garrett McLaughlin Was Enough to Secure a Win

By Jaden Dakwa – LA Soccer Press

A first half brace from Garrett McLaughlin was enough to lift North Carolina FC to a 2-1 victory over Richmond Kickers in USL League One play on Saturday night at WakeMed Soccer Park.

Richmond Kickers opened the scoring in the 13th minute when Emiliano Terzaghi finished a one-time strike from a pull back cross that was hit by right back Stephen Payne. 

North Carolina FC’s Luis Arriaga came close to notching a goal in consecutive matches in the 23rd minute when his low driven effort from outside the box cannoned off the post.

Garrett McLaughlin equalized the match for NCFC in the 36th minute after pulling off a deft flicked header from a corner kick that slipped past Richmond Kickers goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald.

NCFC was awarded a penalty after Jaden Servania was brought down due to a rough challenge in the box in the 41st minute.

McLaughlin coolly dispatched his penalty to the opposite side the keeper dived in the 43rd minute to give NCFC a 2-1 lead heading into the halftime break.

Richmond Kickers’ midfielder Owayne Gordon struck a curling effort from outside the box in the 54th minute that produced a magnificent fingertip save from NCFC goalkeeper Will Pulisic to protect their 2-1 lead.

NCFC midfielder Cole Frame eventually was substituted onto the pitch for Jaden Servania in the 73rd minute. Frame’s impact off the bench was immediate. Frame’s high work rate and ability on the ball instantly gave Richmond Kickers issues. In the 78th minute, Frame was able to skip down the right wing and whip a cross into forward Oalex Anderson. Anderson pulled off a stunning acrobatic bicycle kick, but his effort ended up flying over the bar.

NCFC midfielder Luis Arriaga had another chance to extend NCFC’s lead in the 85th minute when he skipped past a defender in the box and struck a shot that Richmond Kickers goalkeeper Fitzgerald was able to save.

Max Flick nearly made a significant contribution as a substitute in stoppage time when he was able to dribble past multiple players and strike a shot that was eventually saved. Flick came onto the pitch for Oalex Anderson in the 79th minute.

NCFC was able to hold onto their lead and their win took the team to second place in the USL League One table. North Carolina FC head coach John Bradford spoke about how it is “nice” to be in such a high position in the table, but the team is focused on improving each match and he understands that is very early in the season. 

“We try not to talk about the standings and where things are,” Bradford said. “We try to get better each game and I think we’ve had some ups and downs in the first four or five games. I think we are finding our way to be a little bit more consistent. It’s nice, but it’s also what eight games in a lot more games to be played.”

Bradford believes the team got off to a “poor” start, but was satisfied with how quickly his team was able to recover.

“I’m extremely pleased with the way the guys turned around a poor start to the game, a poor first 15-20 minutes,” Bradford said. “We felt loose, but the guys were able to mentally put that behind them and start finding their way a little bit. It was nice to have that response in the first half and a really good defensive effort in the second half.”

Bradford spoke about the performance of goalkeeper Will Pulisic and how vital his all around play was to securing a victory.

“I thought Will was outstanding,” Pulisic said. “I can’t remember a moment where he didn’t make the right save for us or the right decision for us. He’s just growing and getting better as time goes on.”

NCFC will be returning to action when the team plays against Northern Colorado Hailstorm in USL League One action on June 8th, in Windsor, Colorado.

Dakwa holds a BS in Journalism from Elon University. He writes about North Carolina professional soccer for L.A. Soccer Press. Follow him at @JDakwa on Twitter.