CARY, N.C. (Sept. 2, 2023) — The comeback kids struck again as a late winner propelled North Carolina FC to a 2-1 victory over Central Valley Fuego FC Saturday afternoon at WakeMed Soccer Park. North Carolina FC remain atop the USL League One table with 47 points and a 14-5-5 record.
North Carolina FC has earned 19 points from losing positions, which is more than any other team in USL League One. They conceded very early after a penalty called at the edge of the box in just the 4’ led to a Fuego goal. NCFC equalized off a set piece in the 36’ when Rafa Mentzingen set up Jaden Servania for a screamer from 30 yards out for his second goal of the year.
After a back-and-forth second half, NCFC broke through off a corner in the 89’ when DJ Benton, who had entered the match just moments earlier, headed home an insert from Luis Arriaga to put NCFC in front for the first time and they would close out the win to ensure they remain atop the league standings for yet another week.
“I think it did shed a lot of character for the guys to be able to concede at an early stage and stay the course in terms of our game plan, what we were trying to do, and earn a free chance late in the first half to draw level. Whether it’s the first or the last minute of the game, I know this team is competing and to see that effort pay off tonight was great,” said head coach John Bradford.
“I’m so happy for DJ. You know, everybody wants to play every minute of every game and it’s a hard ask to be able to come in and be focused and contribute. DJ earned that opportunity tonight and all of our subs came in and played at a high level,” said Bradford.
“Coach knows I’m pretty decent in the air. So midway through the season, they started sending me upper corners and I like the near post ball. I was just hoping for an opportunity. I lost this one in the sun a bit, but luckily I was able to track it enough and help the team get the result,” said DJ Benton.
“It was unlucky in the beginning to concede that penalty earlier and then put it away but the team reacted well and put ourselves back in the game. We came out in the second half a little slow, but everyone’s ready on the bench. That’s what it takes. A whole team. So very proud of the guys,” said Jaden Servania.