Fielding an incredibly young lineup, North Carolina FC put together a very impressive 70 minutes of backs-to-the-wall defending, but a flurry of late goals from the Chattanooga Red Wolves saw NCFC fall 3-2. With the loss, NCFC remains bottom of USL League One with just one point from seven games.
NCFC played 70 minutes of solid defense after taking the early lead, but fatigue down the stretch allowed the Red Wolves to finally break through, scoring three after the 73rd minute. Chattanooga dominated the ball for the entire game, outshooting NCFC 37-7 and holding 62% of the possession.
With more than a few players unavailable due to suspension or injury, NCFC fielded a very young lineup against Chattanooga. Ranging from as young as 15, four players from the 15 academy players signed in March started with another four making the bench.
Included in those four starts was 15-year-old Nick Holliday, who made his debut in goal for the suspended Jake McGuire. Holliday looked like a veteran in net despite his young age, making 10 saves, including five in the opening half hour.
Joining Holiday in the starting XI were fellow academy players Parker O’Ferral, Britton Fischer and Cole Frame.
It didn’t take long for NCFC head coach John Bradford’s trust in youth to be repaid with Frame scoring his first first-team goal in just the sixth minute. Luis Arriaga played a brilliant ball over the top to get Frame behind the Red Wolves’ backline. After he was in on goal, Frame looked like a seasoned veteran, tucking the ball in at the near post.
In addition to the goal being a major personal milestone for Frame, it also marked the first time an NCFC Academy player has scored for the team in a league match.
After NCFC’s goal, there was near non-stop one-way traffic directly at Holliday’s goal, but for nearly 70 minutes, NCFC bended without breaking. In the 73rd minute, the Red Wolves finally broke through and leveled things up.
The Red Wolves didn’t stop there, capitalizing on their momentum and bagging two more by the first few minutes of stoppage time. Max Flick pulled one back for NCFC late in added time but it was too little, too late.
NCFC will be back in action on Friday, June 25, returning home to take on the Richmond Kickers.