Khori Bennett Hat Trick Leads Charlotte To Victory Over Central Valley Fuego FC
CHARLOTTE, NC – The Charlotte Independence earned their third clean sheet of the season during a 4-0 victory over Central Valley Fuego FC on Friday at American Legion Memorial Stadium. Forward #90 Khori Bennett earned his first professional hat trick on the night.
“It was a great night for us,” Charlotte Independence Head Coach Mike Jeffries said. “We hadn’t had a shutout in a long time, and I thought the whole group worked hard to limit chances. Hats off to the team, some nice goals, and credit to Khori. He’s worked really hard, so it’s nice to see him get rewarded for it.”
The match was chippy from the start with both teams conceding a number of fouls through the run of play. After producing three good looks in front of goal, it was Bennett who broke through for the Jacks in the 39th minute. His first of three on the night came off a cross from #13 Chris Hegardt who found Bennett on the back post. Bennett headed the ball down onto the goal line and into the back of the net. Charlotte took the lead, 1-0.
Bennett doubled the lead for the Independence in first half stoppage time after #7 Miguel Ibarra claimed a loose ball and charged at the Fuego defense. He dished it off to Bennett in the box who skillfully maneuvered past his defender and put a strike flying past the Fuego goalkeeper.
“I’m elated,” Bennett shared. “The season has been up and down for the team and myself. Tonight as a group we put together a very good performance.”
The Jacks led at halftime, Charlotte Independence 2 – Central Valley Fuego FC 0.
Charlotte didn’t let off the gas. The Jacks earned a corner kick in the 51st minute. The cross caused chaos in the box for Fuego. A couple 50/50 headers eventually landed at the feet of #3 Hector Acosta who took the volley first time and placed in the low left corner of the net. The goal was Acosta’s second of the season.
“Our defense tries to get on offense as much as we can,” Acosta said. “We’re always hungry to score because it’s not common.”
Bennett earned his first professional hat trick with a third goal in the 64th minute. Hegardt dribbled into the box drawing several defenders with him. He looked up and saw Bennett wide open in the middle of the box for the easy tap in finish.
“My hat trick is a result of the group’s effort, so I’m elated,” added Bennett.
Final score, Charlotte Independence 4 – Central Valley Fuego FC 0
“We have a certain confidence with playing here that we hope to continue,” Jeffries said. “Like any game, we’ll take note and see where we recover, but I think we’ll be able to build confidence-wise in terms of our ability on the ball and possession today, so there’s a lot we can take as positives.”
NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE: The Charlotte Independence host Forward Madison FC at American Legion Memorial Stadium on Friday, August 5. First kick is set for 7:00 PM. Visit charlotteindependence.com for tickets.