North Carolina FC 3 – 0 Chattanooga Red Wolves
North Carolina FC took to the field at WakeMed Soccer Park Friday night set out to do something they haven’t done before: beat the Chattanooga Red Wolves. And, thanks to a brace from former Red Wolves star Rafa Mentzingen, NCFC
- Got a shut-out
- Pocketed three points
- Leap-frogged to the top of the standings
Head coach John Bradford had his team pressing the Red Wolves right from the start. The boys in blue were active on challenges, winning an early corner kick.
A DOMINATING FIRST HALF
Chattanooga shook off the road dust and enjoyed a few spells of possession, but the Dead Whales dominated the first half with a 67% duel success rate and 50% aerial duals won. Once again it was Oalex Anderson being an absolute migraine for the Red Wolves defense; the forward was involved in nearly every scoring opportunity North Carolina generated in the half.
But with 14 shots (4 on goal), NCFC was missing that final touch and it looked like the game would be goal-less at halftime.
Anderson had a few more magic tricks left in his boot. Mikey Maldonado found Anderson with a stunning through ball that sent the forward 1v1 against Red Wolves goalkeeper Carlos Avilez. Anderson threaded his shot between the keeper’s wickets to put NCFC up 1-0 in the 45th minute.
The supporters were still cheering the goal while Chattanooga ran the ball back to North Carolina’s defensive third. As Alex Tejera ran onto the ball in the penalty area, David Garcia made an ill-timed slide tackle that took out the Red Wolves forward. The referee never hesitated pointing directly at the spot. Ryley Kraft’s PK attempt was punched away by Nick Holliday to preserve the lead.
SHARING IS CARING (AND SCORING)
Chattanooga came out firing in the second half but, like NCFC in the first half, didn’t make that final play. That left the door open for the home team to inflict some more damage on the Red Wolves defense. Maldonado looked like he might double the North Carolina lead shortly after the halftime break, but he held up his shot.
But this was going to be a night for Anderson and Mentzingen to shine. The two would link up for NCFC’s second goal, and it was a thing of unselfish beauty! The play began all the way in the defensive third when Garcia lobbed the ball 30-40 yards over midfield and delivered it right into the path of Anderson.
With Avilez coming out of his net, Anderson had an option to chip the ball over him for a second goal, but instead he heard Mentzingen stampeding down the left side and slipped a pass through the box. Mentzingen made the tap-in look so easy, and North Carolina had the 2-0 lead in the 57th minute.
Rafa gets goals 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/3eLLmEauDa— North Carolina FC (@NorthCarolinaFC) April 22, 2023
North Carolina made it 3-0 in the 66th minute on another great build-up play starting with Holliday. The ball found its way to the feet of Garrett McLaughlin, who came on for Anderson in the 61st minute. McLaughlin drove toward the endline before pulling the ball back and rolling it across the box to Mentzingen who copy/pasted his finish from the first goal to get his brace and secure the club’s first win over Chattanooga.
Double trouble from Rafa tonight 🤩— North Carolina FC (@NorthCarolinaFC) April 22, 2023
Two goals against his former team 😤 pic.twitter.com/gcJTRNF6Zy
JOB DONE? NOT QUITE YET
While the Dead Whales had the win in their grasp, there was still one more thing to check off the list: getting the shut-out.
North Carolina’s defense handily dispatched just about everything Chattanooga’s offense threw at it. And when the play broke through the defensive lines, Holliday came up with the big swat, parry, or mid-air grab to deny the Red Wolves.
After shutting the door on Chattanooga’s final scoring opportunities late in stoppage time, Holliday and his teammates celebrated a big win and a clean sheet.
Next up for NCFC is a couple of away games at Greenville on April 29 and Fresno to take on Central Valley Fuego on Friday, May 5. They return to WakeMed Soccer Park to face the Flamingoes of Forward Madison FC on Saturday May 13. You can get tickets at northcarolinafc.com/tickets.
North Carolina FC (4-4-2): N. Holliday; C. Lue Young, D. Navarro©, D. Garcia, N. Flores Blanco; L. Arriaga (R. Somersall 61’), M. Maldonado, L. Perez (P. Popp 71’), J. Servania (G. Fernandes 88’); R. Mentzingen (S. Adams 71’), O. Anderson (G. McLaughlin 61’)
Chattanooga Red Wolves: C. Avilez; N. Cardona, J. Brady, M. Williams, A. Lombardi; M. Malango (E. Espinoza 67’), Ualefi© (C. Marsh 61’), A. Paoli (F. Liborio Jr 80’), W. Varela; R. Kraft, A. Tejera (R. Mensah 80’)
North Carolina FC: 3
Chattanooga Red Wolves: 0
North Carolina FC: O. Anderson (M. Maldonado) 45’; R. Mentzingen (O. Anderson) 57’; R. Mentzingen (G. McLaughlin 66’)
Chattanooga Red Wolves:
North Carolina FC: D. Navarro (YC) 41’; D. Garcia (YC) 45+2’; J. Servania (YC) 75’; M. Maldonado (YC) 82’
Chattanooga Red Wolves: A. Tejera (YC) 30’; A. Paoli (YC) 65’; C. Marsh (YC) 75’