Otters Knock Off First Place Fusion in 3–2 Thriller
In front of a packed out Perch, the Otters continued to play some of their best soccer at home, winning 3–2 against the first place North Carolina Fusion U-23s on Wednesday night. The Otters were able to get a goal from the usual attacking front, while also getting two goals from centerbacks. The win pushes the Otters unbeaten streak to five games and moves them closer to the playoffs as they remain in fourth place, just one spot out of the three playoff positions. The team will travel out to Virginia Beach to play both Virginia Beach United and Lionsbridge FC on Friday and Sunday, respectively. The Otters will return home NEXT WEDNESDAY when they face the NCFC U-23s at 7 PM! It will be $1 Wednesday once again and tickets are already on sale HERE for the field and The Perch!
Looking to avenge the 3–1 loss at the Fusion to open the season, the Otters came out hungry, and ready to make a statement. As has been the trend for the Otters at home recently, they wasted little time making their mark on the match. Following a corner, Gabriel Ramos (ETSU) was able to intercept a clearance attempt and immediately sent the ball back into the box. Centerback Matt Skinner (UNCG) out-leapt his defender and sent a powerful header into the back of the net for the early Otters lead less than fifteen minutes into the match.
The Fusion wasted little time to find the equalizer, capitalizing on a defensive mishap in the 16th minute.
However, the Otters remained unfazed, re-taking the lead just seven minutes later. In his first game back, midfielder Aidan O’Brien (ETSU) picked off a Fusion throw in and played the ball to Danilo Seglio (Loyola Maryland). Seglio gave the ball to captain Guillermo Segovia (Florida Tech), who gave it right back and got Seglio in behind to finish from the tough angle to give the Otters a 2–1 lead.
The teams both traded good chances in the first half, with a Tom Tzabari (Duquesne) volley just missing the top corner. The Fusion earned a dangerous free kick from 35 yards away just before the half ended, but goalkeeper Mars Gohier (Florida Southern) was able to stretch and push the low shot out for a corner and preserve the 2–1 halftime lead.
The Otters began the second half looking to extend their lead. After a Segovia shot was pushed out for a corner and the ensuing kick by Ramos was knocked out for another, Seglio sent in an in-swinging ball and found a lurking Sam Catherall (Gardner-Webb) at the back post, who hit it past the keeper.
From there, the Otters relied on their defending. The backline of Skinner, Catherall, and Jan Gruhn (Shorter) dealt with countless attacks, preventing the Fusion from generating much offense going forward. However, the Fusion dialed up the pressure late in the match and were able to pull one goal back in the 85th minute off of a corner.
Turning to the bench for energy, substitutes Lucas Lightner (ETSU), Charlie Betts (Milligan), and Kendall Allen (U-Indy) were able to keep the pressure high and win key duels down the stretch. Not content to just see the game out, the Otters continued to push forward offensively with Henrik Guenther (ETSU) working hard on the counter attack, and substitute Agu Ortiz (Anderson) generating his own chances.
However, the Fusion still had two late opportunities in stoppage time. The first came off a deflected clearance, but Gohier and Catherall were able to force the defender off the ball and collect it. In the waning moments of the match, Fusion goalkeeper and former Otter (2018) Josh Perryman, came up for the corner and was able to get a head on it, but it rattled off the cross bar and bounced out of danger. Shortly after, the final whistle blew securing the win and all three points for the Otters.
Goalscorer Danilo Seglio on the night at TVA Credit Union Ballpark:
“The atmosphere was out of this world at tonight’s game. Every time we play at home the fans seem to be a part of the team with us. Always supporting us and having our backs. We owe them a huge thanks for everything they did tonight. thankful for my teammates for fighting and giving 100% until the end, and all of the coaching staff for supporting and providing everything to be successful on the field.”
Unbeaten in five matches the Otters continue to push up the table, chasing one of the three playoff spots for the South Atlantic Division. They travel to Virginia Beach this weekend for a doubleheader against Virginia Beach United and Lionsbridge FC. They will return to TVA Credit Union Ballpark next Wednesday, when they take on the NCFC U-23s at 7 PM! Tickets are already on sale at ottersoccer.com! Be sure to follow Ottersoccer on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to make sure you are up to date on all things Otters as they make their push for the playoffs over the next few weeks! #FearTheFur