CARY, N.C. - Behind a hat trick from Garrett McLaughlin, Toronto FC II defeated North Carolina FC 4-2 on Sunday night at WakeMed Soccer Park.
A fast and furious first half saw the two teams combine for three goals in nine minutes. TFC II opened the scoring when Erickson Gallardo's clever layoff set up McLaughlin for a simple tap-in, but NCFC equalized moments later through Thorn Simpson.
McLaughlin would then double his and TFC II's tally to restore the visitors' lead in sensational fashion, as his jaw-dropping bicycle kick connected perfectly with Rohan Goulbourne's cross and flew into the net.
NCFC's comeback chances were dented just before halftime when midfielder Pecka was sent off. But despite being down a man for the entire second half, the home side tied the game on 67 minutes. Substitute Cole Frame latched on to a long ball from Jay Tee Kamara, squared up his defender, and beat the goalkeeper with a well-placed shot.
That parity would prove short-lived, though, as the Young Reds took the lead for a third time eight minutes later. Steffen Yeates teed up Antonio Carlini for an excellent low strike, which arrowed into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
McLaughlin would then finish off a counterattack to complete his hat trick in the 83rd minute, ensuring TFC II collected all three points when the final whistle blew.
NCFC has another home game in 72 hours' time, when it will host the Richmond Kickers for the second time this season. TFC II continues its road swing with a trip to take on the New England Revolution II on Friday.
USLLeagueOne.com Player of the Match
Garrett McLaughlin, Toronto FC II - Score a hat trick, and you get to take home the match ball. The TFC II striker was superb on the night, vaulting himself into second place in the League One Golden Boot race with a trio of goals.