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Gameday Report: October 9, Week 31

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 10/09/18, 9:12PM EDT

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Lancaster sets goalscoring record as Louisville downs NCFC; Red Bulls II clinch place in postseason


Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC

THREE THINGS THAT MATTERED

1. Cameron Lancaster took sole possession of the USL’s single-season goalscoring record on Tuesday night, and did so with a goal that was symbolic of the remarkable season the English forward has had for Louisville City FC before adding a late game-winner in a 2-1 win against North Carolina FC that tightened the club’s grip on second place in the Eastern Conference. After scoring the winning goal in the 2017 USL Cup last November, 2018 has been a breakout season for Lancaster as his 23rd goal saw him surpass the previous mark held by former Louisville teammate Matt Fondy. The 30-yard finish that picked out the left corner to level the game early in the second half was another high point for the 25-year-old, who then added a simple finish with six minutes to go to lift his side to victory and raise the bar once again in a thrilling victory.

2. Louisville City FC's victory against North Carolina FC allowed the New York Red Bulls II to book their place in the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs as they rallied for a 3-1 victory on Tuesday night against Penn FC for their second consecutive away victory. After going winless through their first 15 road games of the season, the Red Bulls II came through in the nick of time to earn victory in its final two away games of the season as goals by Jared Stroud, Brian White and Jose Aguinaga drove the side through the finish line. While there was still half-an-hour to wait for confirmation after their game had concluded with Louisville and North Carolina's clash yet to conclude, it was worth it for a Red Bulls II side that will always be a threat in a single-elimination format.

3. Nashville SC was also poised to take advantage of North Carolina’s defeat, holding a ticket to the USL Cup Playoffs in its hand when it took a two-goal lead on Toronto FC II at First Tennessee Park, but the Reds grabbed the ticket away for the moment with two late goals from Jordan Perruzza and Jordan Hamilton that left NSC a point away from the playoffs after a 2-2 draw. Nashville should still be favored to reach the postseason in its inaugural season but will be very disappointed not to have closed out victory and ensured its place when it was at hand with FC Cincinnati coming to visit on Saturday night. 

GAME REPORTS

NASHVILLE SC (2), TORONTO FC II (2)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Toronto FC II rallied with two goals in the final 15 minutes to take a 2-2 draw with Nashville SC at First Tennessee Park that kept NSC from clinching its place in the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs with a game to spare. Nashville was handed the chance to take the lead from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute when Alan Winn was brought down in the penalty area only for Matt LaGrassa to be denied as TFC II goalkeeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell made a diving save on the shot to the left corner to keep the game scoreless. Patterson-Sewell came up big again twice more in the first half to keep out efforts by Winn and Ropapa Mensah, while Robert Boskovic deflected a shot by Tucker Hume wide of the right post with a lunging challenge five minutes before halftime. Patterson-Sewell made another big stop to bail out his defense after a turnover to keep out a shot by Michael Reed early in the second half, but in the 63rd minute the hosts finally took the lead as LaGrassa tucked home a first-time finish after a surging run into the left side of the penalty area by Brandon Allen allowed him to find a lane to cut a low cross back to his teammate. Nashville doubled its lead as Allen first released Winn into space on the left and then made a run to the right post that the winger picked out with a low cross for a close-range finish. The visitors pulled a goal back three minutes later as Pickens was unable to handle a long-range shot by Endoh and the rebound was turned home by Jordan Perruzza, and Toronto then leveled with five minutes to go when Hamilton put home a header into the bottom-right corner that Pickens was unable to keep out. Nashville almost regained the lead twice in the closing stages as Patterson-Sewell made saves to keep out chances for Reed, Winn and LaGrassa, and the TFC II goalkeeper’s performance earned his side a point and left Nashville with work left for its postseason berth.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Caleb Patterson-Sewell, Toronto FC II
– Patterson-Sewell finished with 10 saves that first kept his side in the game and then held things down after Jordan Hamilton’s late equalizer as the visitors claimed a draw.

LOUISVILLE CITY FC (2), NORTH CAROLINA FC (1)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Cameron Lancaster struck twice in the second half to become the USL’s single-season goalscoring record holder as Louisville City FC took a 2-1 victory against North Carolina FC at Slugger Field for its fifth consecutive win. Lancaster took less than two minutes to line up a good chance on goal as he fired just high from the right side of the penalty area, and the USL Golden Boot leader was denied in the 17th minute by an outstanding close-range save by NCFC goalkeeper Alex Tambakis before Niall McCabe shot the rebound chance high. Louisville’s George Davis IV also curled a shot just wide of the left post with the outside of his right boot midway through the first half, while North Carolina threatened on a free kick by Kyle Bekker from beyond the left edge of the penalty area that Louisville goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh had to punch clear. NCFC took the lead seven minutes before halftime, however, as Daniel Rios put home his 18th goal of the season from close range as Steven Miller got past his marker down the right to deliver a low cross to the top of the six-yard area. Louisville struck back just two minutes into the second half as Lancaster got his record-breaking 23rd goal of the season with a superb turning finish from 30 yards that curled into the left corner of the net, and the English forward almost struck again nine minutes later only for his shot to the left side to be turned wide by a fine save from Tambakis. The visitors were denied a chance to regain the lead in the 71st minute when a perfectly-timed challenge by Louisville’s Paco Craig denied Rios a breakaway chance, and with six minutes to go a first-time cross from the right by Kyle Smith provided Lancaster with a simple finish to put the hosts ahead. Louisville almost added to its lead in stoppage time when Speedy Williams’ first-time shot was turned over the crossbar by Tambakis, but Lancaster’s brace proved enough to secure a fifth consecutive win.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Cameron Lancaster, Louisville City FC
– Lancaster became the USL’s single-season goalscoring record holder with his 23rd and 24th goals of the season and in the process led his side to a crucial comeback victory.

PENN FC (1), NEW YORK RED BULLS II (3)

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The New York Red Bulls II claimed their place in the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs as they rallied from a first-half deficit to take a 3-1 victory against Penn FC at FNB Field as North Carolina's defeat to Louisville a little while later ensured the 2016 USL Cup champion would return to the postseason. New York believed it had taken the lead in the 17th minute when Jared Stroud found the back of the net only for the goal to be disallowed for offside, and eight minutes later it was the hosts that struck first as Miguel Jaime slid home a finish to the left corner from the right side of the penalty area after a quick sequence through midfield that opened up the opportunity. The Red Bulls II leveled through Stroud in the 32nd minute as Stroud got his goal with a flicked header from Chris Lema’s corner kick from the right, and the visitors twice went close to taking the lead before halftime as chances for Brian White and Jose Anguinaga both went just wide of the left post. Penn almost regained the lead 11 minutes into the second half when a header by Lucky Mkosana came back off the crossbar and was cleared, and in the 66th minute New York took the lead when an errant punch from a free kick by Penn goalkeeper Sean Lewis fell to White to put home his 10th goal of the season. Penn had a chance to equalize seven minutes later only for Paulo Junior to send a low shot wide of the left post, but New York put the game away with two minutes to go as Jose Aguinaga curled home a finish to the right corner from the left side of the penalty area to make it back-to-back road victories for the side.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Chris Lema, New York Red Bulls II
– Lema provided a perfect cross for Jared Stroud’s equalizer and was solid defensively, recording five interceptions, three tackles and two clearances for the visitors.

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