Charlotte Independence Win 2-1 In Stoppage Time vs. Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Charlotte Independence won their first USL League One match tonight in a 2-1 extra time victory over expansion side Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC. The Jacks placed a number of new faces in the Starting XI including goalkeeper #30 Adrian Zendejas, #2 Koa Santos and #90 Khori Bennett. The Charlotte Independence return to the pitch on Monday, April 25 to host regional rival Richmond Kickers at American Legion Memorial Stadium. The match starts at 7:00 PM.
“It’s fantastic for us, the guys are really excited and super pumped,” explained Charlotte Independence Head Coach, Mike Jeffries. “To stay with a very good team, come back after conceding while you’re struggling at the beginning of the game, we had to claw our way back in the first half, create some chances and get a really nice goal. I thought the second half, with maybe the exception of the first five minutes or so, we were really sharp. We created a lot of good chances and deserved to get the winner. It’s nice to get it late, which adds to the excitement for us and for the fans. It’s a good way to get the first result, and important too to get a win and build confidence.”
Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC took the early lead after former Charlotte Independence teammate #10 Irvin Parra drew a foul inside the penalty box. Parra stepped up to take the kick and placed it to the lower right corner of the net.
Charlotte answered in the 14th minute after an attack led by #11 Tresor Mbuyu. He slotted a pass back to the penalty spot where #7 Miguel Ibarra stood waiting for the finish. He tied the score at one goal a piece.
“I think it started with the US Open Cup. I think we were all disappointed from that showing and we made sure we, defensively, stayed as a unit and we worked hard for each other,” stated Ibarra. “After that game we just decided that everybody is going to work for each other and that’s how we are going to get wins.”
The Jacks pressed early in the second half creating a number of opportunities for newcomer #90 Khori Bennett. He was alone on the counter attack in the 50th minute moving his defender side to side. He found a window for a shot, but it was blocked by the Hailstorm goalkeeper.
In the 58th minute, Mbuyu again drove towards the endline. He cut it back to Ibarra who flicked it towards Bennett on the back post. A deflection from the Hailstorm defender popped the ball up and Bennett’s shot soared over the crossbar.
“The feeling is hard to explain. There’s just so much excitement going through me and also my teammates,” stated Mbuyu, the league’s current leading goal scorer. “It feels good, first home win. It’s been tough, the first game drawing, it was hard. Again, we should have won but everything just worked together in this game. Everybody was on point and it just feels good.”
The game winner came in the first minute of extra time. #19 Quinn McNeill found himself on the counter attack with just one defender to beat. He laid it off to Mbuyu who pumped, faked out the goalkeeper and rolled it over to his left foot for the finish.
“Tresor has come into this season. He worked really hard in the offseason, he prepared himself well, he’s playing with a lot of confidence and a lot of sharpness and you can see that,” stated Jeffries.
“He’s running at players and has been effective doing it. He’s put himself in good spots in the box and he’s been very composed. It’s good to see. I’m really happy for him, and I’m really happy for all that he’s put into his progress over the last couple of years. You’re seeing some of the results now.”
Final score: Charlotte Independence 2 – Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC 1. NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE: The Charlotte Independence return to the pitch on Monday, April 25 to host regional rival Richmond Kickers at American Legion Memorial Stadium. The match starts at 7:00 PM. Visit our website for tickets.