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ATL UTD 2 1-6 North Carolina FC: Tough start to a season-ending stretch

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NCFC struck five times in the first half as Atlanta’s seven-game homestand got off on the wrong foot.

It was a tough Friday night for ATL UTD 2 against North Carolina FC as NCFC struck five times in the first half - including a first half hat trick from Donovan Ewolo - to leave town with a 6-1 victory at Coolray Field.

NCFC opened the scoring as Ewolo put a perfect header into the net off a corner in just the third minute of play. It didn’t stay 1-0 for long, as ATL UTD 2 pounced on a turnover that fell to teenage midfielder Alessandro Castro - who made his first professional goal one to remember.

But ATL UTD 2 got a bit unlucky a little later on. Kevin Barajas slipped near the box as he tried to challenge a pass, leaving Ewolo enough space to get his second of the match in the 17th as the visitors went ahead for good.

NCFC struck again in the 29th courtesy of Kyle Bekker to increase their margin to 3-1, with Ewolo completing his hat trick in the 33rd to make it 4-1. Zach Steinberger added NCFC’s fifth of the half in the 43rd and Ewolo netted his fourth of the night in the 89th to cap the scoring.

“Nothing went our way, and in addition to that we have to admit to ourselves that it wasn’t a good performance,” said coach Scott Donnelly. “North Carolina was hungry, sharp, and as a team we earned a really hard lesson from them.”

“It was a tough lesson for us tonight,” said captain Jack Metcalf. “They managed to get into good pockets and really punished us for the mistakes that we made. We’ve got six games left and I think we can take the lessons from tonight into the last six games.”

ATL UTD 2 continues its season-ending home stand against Nashville SC on Wednesday. Kickoff from Gwinnett County is set for 7 p.m.

ATL UTD 2 Starting XI: Mitch Hildebrandt, Alessandro Castro, Jon Gallagher, Jack Metcalf (C), A.J. Cochran, Laurent Kissiedou, Kevin Barajas, Ollie Shannon, Andrew Kendall-Moullin, Lagos Kunga, Jackson Conway

Bench: Nico Caraux, Devon Sandoval, Paul Christensen, Chris Goslin, Shawn Nicklaw, Rodolfo

Substitutions: Goslin 46’ (Kissiedou); Nicklaw 69’ (Barajas); Rodolfo 83’ (Conway)