MATTHEWS, N.C. — Riding the strength of a pair of goals from Azaad Liadi and penalty kick saves in overtime from Ben Martino, Huntsville City Football Club debuted in style Sunday with a shootout win over Crown Legacy FC.
The two clubs tied at the end of regulation 2-2 and Huntsville City won the shootout 4-3. Huntsville City FC is the MLS NEXT Pro affiliate of Nashville SC and Crown Legacy is the affiliate of Charlotte FC.
The shootout capped a day of emotion for the first-year team and Head Coach Jack Collison.
“We got to experience a lot of emotions as a group,” he said. “I was calm going into the game … a really good feeling.
“Going up early was fantastic.”
Collison that Liadi scored for his squad – the Detroit native had six goals in the preseason for HCFC.
“Azaad has been phenomenal all preseason,” Collison said. “It was really great for him to get the two today.”
Liadi scored the first goal in Huntsville City FC history just eight minutes into the match after navigating through two defenders and delivering a powerful shot with his right foot above the keeper’s head.
With the score tied 1-1, Liadi scored his second goal in the 72nd minute after Jonathan Bolaños played a ball through the attacking zone. Liadi timed his run perfectly and in a one-on-one with the keeper, the striker danced around him and fired into the open net.
“The first goal was a good finish,” Liadi said. “It always helps to score early.
“I was just lucky enough to score the second goal. Credit goes to Jonathan.”
Crown Legacy tied the contest in stoppage time to send the match into penalties. Adem Sipic scored in the top frame of the sixth round for a 4-3 HCFC advantage. Martino made a kick save to secure the extra point for Huntsville.
“It was great to have Ben down there,” Collison said. He was sent to Huntsville City from Nashville SC. “To see him come in and play such a big part (on and off the field), gives us a real good hope and feeling.”
HCFC returns to action Friday at Orlando City B. Match time is 6 p.m.
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