• David Cunningham

Lionsbridge FC Rebounds from Three-Game Losing Streak with Win over North Carolina FC U23

Lionsbridge FC snapped their three-game losing streak on Saturday, June 1, defeating North Carolina FC’s U23 squad 3-0 at Pomoco Stadium.

“I feel like we should’ve gotten a win in the first two games of the season, but the fans keep coming out and supporting us and we finally rewarded them,” forward Luke Brown said.

Led by Brown, who assisted two of the three goals, the Bridge got off to a rocking start, getting on the board in the 18th minute.

Brown’s free kick from 28 yards out on the left side of the box found the right foot of center back Gideon Betz, who opened up the scoring. Betz, the Schluchtern, Germany native, made a curling run toward the near post from the top of the penalty area. Brown put it right on his foot, and Lionsbridge never looked back.

In the 29th minute, Brennan Burton, the former Kecoughtan High School standout and current James Madison University athlete, received a pass on the right wing with yards of space. He whipped in a cross that found the head of Thibaut Jacquel and flew into the net.

Four minutes later, Brown struck a free kick from just outside the penalty box that found the foot of Luke Staats at the near post. One touch from Staats extended the lead to three, as he buried the ball in the bottom corner.

“Everyone was phenomenal tonight, especially in the first half,” Brown said. “I think I played well, but it was definitely a team effort tonight.”

Lionsbridge allowed very few shots on goal throughout the game. One of the only chances for North Carolina FC in the 51st minute, as Virginia Tech midfielder James Kasak took a touch outside with his left foot and hit a rocket on goal. Richard Dearle, the Lionsbridge goalkeeper from Nottingham, England, deflected the shot over the crossbar.

Dearle did not have to do much else besides Kasak’s chance. The defense was superb, led by Betz and Staats, who each netted a goal.

Lionsbridge FC now sits atop the South Atlantic Division standings after their 3-0 victory.

The win is Lionsbridge’s third of the season and gives them ten points in the league, which moves them into first place in the South Atlantic Division. They currently sit one point ahead of North Carolina FC U23, who they travel to play next weekend in Cary, North Carolina.

As for the fan support during the first home win of the season, Brown said, “It’s excellent to see how much it means to the fans, because it means just as much to the players.”

Head Coach Chris Whalley complemented the fans as well, saying, “For the crowd that we have and the fans, I’ve been so disappointed of not putting a W on the scoreboard yet. We have the best fans in the league, no doubt about that, and I’m just disappointed we haven’t given them enough wins yet.”

It took the team until the third home game of the season to get three points, but Whalley hopes they can keep the momentum going forward.

“Ultimately, I think if we work and play the way we played tonight, we should be fine going forward.”

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