The Otters secured their first shutout of the season on Tuesday night and picked up their second win in a row to move to 2-1-1 on the season. The 2-0 win against the NCFC U-23s not only gives the Otters seven points through four games, but also gives them a winning record for the first time in their history!
With another week of training under their belt, the Otters stayed in their new 3-5-2 formation looking to build on the success from the previous week. That proved to be a success as the Otters recorded a shutout, but also tied their record for the fifth most shots in a game with fifteen.
From the opening whistle, the Otters looked to attack, and it paid almost immediate dividends. In the 4th minute, after a scramble in the box, a shot ended up hitting a NCFC defender’s hand, giving the Otters an early penalty kick. Forward Marvin Van Der Made (University of the Cumberlands) stepped up to the spot and made no mistake, burying the ball in the right corner for a 1-0 lead.
The Otters continued to pressure NCFC, with Made combining well with Alex Horveno (Ohio Valley) and Troy Brady (Canisius) along the left side, while Taylor Gray (Reinhardt) had success taking on defenders 1-v-1 on the right side.
The Otters two best chances of the first half were courtesy of great runs by Brady. The first came in the 34th minute when Made flicked a ball into space for Brady to run on to and the second came a few minutes later when a great lifted ball by Stuart Hendry (Wingate) found Brady’s run, but both times the NCFC keeper came out to make a save, keeping the game 1-0 at the half.
On defense, the backline of Merveil Bilomba (ETSU), George Stanley (Montreat), and Blake Barribeau (Palm Beach Atlantic) were able to aptly deal with all pressure throughout the game. In the rare instance that NCFC were able to threaten on goal, Tim Trilk (Western Illinois) was able to make the save and preserve the shutout.
The second half was much of the same, as the Otters looked to double their lead while also holding steady on the defensive side. Despite increased NCFC pressure, the midfield of Hendry, Matheus Tonon (Palm Beach Atlantic), and Jack Burrows (Palm Beach Atlantic) was able to win the ball back defensively and flawlessly transition into the attack time and time again.
The Otters second goal was almost a mirror image of their game-winner from the previous week. After a corner, Horveno ended up with the ball at his feet out wide and whipped in a laser cross that found a soaring Taylor Gray to head it home for the 2-0 lead. Horveno’s third assist of the season moves him into a third place-tie with teammate Blake Barribeau for career and single season assists. Taylor Gray is one goal away from cracking the top-five in career goals for the Otters.
Using a bevy of subs, the Otters continued to hold strong on defense and eventually secured the 2-0 victory to move up in the standings while maintaining a game in hand on everyone in the division.
The Otters are back in action against the NC Fusion U-23s this Saturday with a chance to move into the top of the table. Kickoff is set for 7 PM at Kermit-Tipton Stadium. Follow the Otters on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, so that you don’t miss any updates about the 2019 season! #FearTheFur