Uros Ilic scores his first Ocean City goal in the losing effort
The Ocean City Nor'easters had their 2018 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup run come to an end Tuesday night, falling 4-1 on the road against North Carolina FC.
The pro team from the United Soccer League jumped out to an early lead only to see the Nor'easters equalize with a goal from Ocean City defender Uros Ilic (Missouri Valley College / Nova Pazova, Serbia). NCFC would re-take the lead about 10 minutes later and would add two more in the second half to put the game away.
"Tonight was a great learning experience for the boys, showing the difference between the decision making of a seasoned pro and the college level," said Nor'easters head coach John Thompson, who celebrated his birthday on Tuesday. "At times we put together some very good attacks and then reverted to making rookie decisions on the ball in promising situations."
While the Nor'easters' Cup run ends in the Third Round, this allows the team to put their complete focus back on the league schedule. Qualifying for the 2019 US Open Cup is based on results from the 2018 PDL season, so getting back to their winning ways will go a long way toward getting another shot at the tournament next year.
Next up for the Nor'easters is another road game -- their sixth in a row -- against the New York Red Bulls Under-23s, last year's Mid-Atlantic Division champions. The game will be played on Sunday, May 27 at the Red Bull Training Facility in Whippany, NJ. Kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.
NCFC didn't waste any time, scoring the opening goal in the 8th minute. Austin da Luz played a cross into the box that found Marios Lomis who beat Ocean City goalkeeper Alec Smir (North Carolina / Greensboro, NC) from close range.
In the 17th minute, Ilic, a center back who was the NAIA National Player of the Year, pushed up into the attack for a corner kick. While there, the ball bounced toward him in traffic and he volleyed a shot that was deflected off a Michael Harrington, an NCFC defender, and into the back of the net.
A little less than 10 minutes later, NCFC regained the lead when Austin da Luz headed home a cross.
After the halftime break, the Nor'easters held their own by creating chances on the counterattack, but they were unable to find the back of the net. The best chance came in the 61st minute when Fredlin "Fredinho" Mompremier fired a free kick from about 35 yards out that just barely missed the target. A few more feet to the right and it would have ended up in the upper 90.
In the 66th minute, Andre Fortune added another goal for NCFC after a nice 1-2 play with Marios Lomis. Any hope of a comeback was put to bed when NCFC's DJ Taylor's took a shot from distance that deflected off his teammate Donovan Ewolo and into the back of the net in the 83rd minute.
North Carolina FC advances to Round 4 where they will likely face a team from Major League Soccer. NCFC's Steven Miller, who played three seasons for the Nor'easters (2008-09, 2011), played well as an outside back for the USL side. The Ocean City family wish him and his team the best of luck going forward in the tournament.