CARY, N.C. – Chattanooga Red Wolves SC rallied twice to take a 3-2 victory against North Carolina FC on Saturday afternoon at WakeMed Soccer Park as Marky Hernandez scored the winner just before the hour-mark to snap a two-game losing streak for the visitors.
The hosts had an early chance for Azriel Jackson denied in the 10th minute, but four minutes later they took the lead as Jackson delivered a deep corner kick from the left for Pecka, who was left unmarked in the right side of the penalty area and volleyed back across goal into the left corner of the net.
Jackson then almost added to the lead for the hosts nine minutes later as he broke in toward goal before weaving past a pair of defenders, only for Red Wolves defender Ronaldo Pineda to make a clearance off the line with goalkeeper Tim Trilk beaten. That proved key eight minutes before halftime as the Red Wolves leveled off a corner kick as Jonathan Ricketts came in from the back post to deliver a diving header off Ricky Ruiz’s cross from the right, his ninth assist of the season.
North Carolina regained the lead three minutes into the second half as Cole Frame held up play on a counterattack and found Daniel Steedman, whose shot from 25 yards rattled the crossbar with Trilk unsighted. The ball caromed out and Chattanooga attempted to clear, only for the hosts to regain possession as Jackson received a pass by Luis Arriaga and shot into the right side of the net.
The Red Wolves turned the game around with two goals in four minutes, however, with the first coming on a corner kick in the 54th minute. A deep delivery from the right by Ruiz found Daniel Navarro at the back post to head back across goal, and while the defense got to the ball first it arrived straight back at Navarro’s feet, from where he drilled a low cross that was turned in by Jorge Luna.
Hernandez then put the visitors ahead just two minutes after coming on as a substitute as Rey Ortiz cut past a defender in the left side of the box and delivered a low ball to the back post where Hernandez arrived to finish into the right side of the net. Chattanooga had a chance to add to its lead in the 68th minute after Ortiz was brought down in the penalty area, but NCFC’s Jake McGuire kept it a one-goal game with a good save on Jose Carrera Garcia’s shot to the left side of the net.
Chattanooga had a late chance to add to its lead again in stoppage time as Juan Galindrez broke in on goal and first had a shot saved by McGuire before sending the rebound off the top-right corner of the post, but the visitors held on to earn an important three points in their bid to earn a top-two finish.
NCFC returns to action in midweek with a Wednesday trip westward to take on FC Tucson. Chattanooga's next fixture is at home to Toronto FC II on Saturday, October 16.
USLLeagueOne.com Player of the Match
Jonathan Ricketts, Chattanooga Red Wolves SC – Ricketts delivered an excellent diving header to get the visitors on the board and defensively won 8 of 14 duels and 6 of 8 aerial duels while making seven recoveries and three interceptions.
NC (14’) - Pecka, assisted by Jackson
CHA (37’) – Ricketts, assisted by Ruiz
NC (48’) – Jackson, assisted by Arriaga
CHA (54’) – Luna, assisted by Navarro
CHA (57’) – Hernandez, assisted by Ortiz