Hammerheads win Open Cup thriller

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Submitted: Wed, 06/22/2011 - 2:32am
Updated: Wed, 06/22/2011 - 7:27pm

WILMINGTON,NC (WWAY) — The Hammerheads fought a fierce battle back from a 2-0 deficit to triumph, 3-2, over the Charlotte Eagles in a second round match of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup on Tuesday night at Legion Stadium.

The Hammerheads will take on Real Salt Lake of the MLS in the third round next Tuesday, June 28, at the Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah for a 7 p.m. kick-off.

Charlotte attacked early on pressuring Wilmington inside of the box and firing two shots on goal in the opening fifteen minutes of the first half. Minutes later the Hammerheads had their first attack on goal by midfielder Luke Mulholland who pushed the ball just out of reach and out of bounds before he could make a cross.

In the 44th minute, Charlotte defender Weston Roberts drew first blood off a run down the sideline to receive a speedy free kick and tuck the ball just inside the far post for a 1-0 lead into halftime.

The first 45 minutes were an aggressive battle from both ends with each team drawing a yellow card, one from Eagles’ midfielder Juan Guzman in the 19th minute and another from Hammerheads forward Jyler Noviello in the 35th minute. Charlotte outshot the Hammerheads overall, 4-2, including their lone goal in the waning minutes of the half.

After the break Wilmington came out fast on their feet when Noviello gave a quick give and go to Mulholland beating Charlotte defenders but ultimately denied by goalkeeper Eric Reed in the 46th minute.

The Eagles quickly fell back into form when midfielder Darren Toby put a second goal in the back of the net and on the board in the 53rd minute to increase the margin 2-0.

However, the 2-0 lead would be short lived as the Hammerheads rallied back in the 61st minute when forward Andryi Budnyy fired a ground ball to score off an assist from forward Chris Banks.

In the 78th minute the Hammerheads received a free kick just outside the 18-yard line, which was sent high across the box for a header from Banks to score and tie the game 2-all. Midfielder Jack Avesyan was credited with the assist on the play.

The Hammerheads continued to carry the momentum, outshooting Charlotte, 4-3, in the second half and in the 81st minute, Banks connected with a long cross and drilled a diving header just off the crossbar.

The score remained tied 2-2 in the 90th minute and the game turned to overtime to reveal who would advance to the next round.

Thirteen minutes into overtime both teams struggled to find the back of the net but Mulholland would not be denied as he fired a long shot into the far, side net for a 3-2 lead.

After the quick break of the overtime period, Hammerheads forward Andrews Cuero raced down the field to take on Eagles keeper 1-v-1 but shot the ball high over the cross bar. In stoppage time, midfielder Jorge Herrera blasted one final attempt on goal for Charlotte that flew well over the cross bar to leave Wilmington fans on their feet and bring the game to a close, 3-2, Hammerheads.

This Friday, June 24, the Hammerheads will return to regular season action and play to host the Charleston Battery in an 8 p.m. televised match at Legion Stadium.

We’ve listed the third round matchups for the US Open Cup below:

New York Red Bulls
FC New York

Rochester Rhinos
Chicago Fire

Columbus Crew
Richmond Kickers

Real Salt Lake
Wilmington Hammerheads

FC Dallas
Orlando City

Sporting Kansas City
Fire PDL/Madison

Seattle Sounders FC
Kitsap Pumas

Los Angeles Galaxy
Los Angeles Blues

article courtesy Wilmington Hammerheads – Click play video to see WWAY’s highlights and postgame reaction from Tuesday night.

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