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Lancaster converts late, sends LouCity on to Eastern Conference Final

By LouCity Communications, 11/13/21, 10:45PM EST

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The club will play for a trophy next weekend in a rematch with the Tampa Bay Rowdies.


EM Dash Photography

Cameron Lancaster came up in the clutch Saturday for Louisville City FC, drilling an 89th-minute penalty kick to send the club on to yet another USL Championship Eastern Conference Final appearance.

The boys in purple prevailed by a 1-0 score over the Charlotte Independence at Lynn Family Stadium, setting up a rematch of the 2020 conference final. It’ll be a 7:30 p.m. kickoff next Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium.

Left back Jonathan Gomez led to the game-winning moment while working on the edge of Charlotte’s box. The Independence’s Joel Johnson went for a sliding tackle, and rather than contact the ball with his foot, it bounced off his trailing arm.

Seconds later, Lancaster stepped up with a thundering strike to mark his team-leading 21st goal across all competitions this season.

"If there was a camera zoomed in on my face, I was repeating over and over again, ‘Cam, this is what you do. Cam, this is what you do.' Because it is,” said head coach Danny Cruz. “I saw him all week take penalties. He is confident anytime he steps up to the spot.”

“It’s the playoffs,” added LouCity captain Paolo DelPiccolo, “and we’ve got this awesome stadium that keeps the noise, and the fans are going. So for us it’s a really uplifting feeling and it gives us the energy we need. No one gets tired out there. It’s a really awesome experience playing here.”

As a result, LouCity will vie for its seventh conference final in as many seasons since starting play in 2015. The club is a win away from a third Eastern Conference crown and has won two USL Championship titles, going back to back in 2017 and 2018.

“You don’t see that all around the world — that is for sure,” Cruz said of the appearance streak. “I think it is a testament to the organization, to everything that everybody does here at Louisville City every day. That is from the back office to the players. It is the collective goal that the entire club has. To be able to do that year in and year out is certainly special.

“I am proud to be the manager of this team. I am proud to be the manager for this club and there won’t be a day that I take that for granted.”

Lancaster’s conversation capped a night of close chances but no finishing touch for LouCity, which tried all 13 of its shots from inside the box. Five landed on target, four others were blocked, and the home side in the process controlled 55.1% of possession.

A crowd of 9,155 — a LouCity record for a home conference semifinal — hung on every moment. Those included a nice 33rd-minute sequence that saw Lancaster slide a shot just wide of the post; a 57th-minute DelPiccolo flick that commanded a save; and point-blank Jorge Gonzalez shot also turned away in the 65th minute.

At the other end of the pitch, goalkeeper Chris Hubbard delivered in every moment, making five saves and punching away two other Charlotte chances. The clean sheet was LouCity’s season-high third straight with this also the club’s third consecutive 1-0 score line.

LouCity's one of four clubs left playing in the USL Championship — along with Tampa Bay, which defeated the boys in purple in last year’s Eastern Conference Final.

“I’ve watched them play quite a few times this year only because they’ve been doing well,” DelPiccolo said of next weekend's foe. “Obviously they’re a good team and they’ve got good players through and through. So, for us it’s just another challenge.”

“It’s an opportunity to play for a trophy,” Cruz added. “That is what this group has done year in and year out. This is just another opportunity. We understand the stakes. We understand what it takes to accomplish that. I am confident in the group of guys that I have in there.”

Regardless of the Western Conference Final’s result, the LouCity-Tampa Bay winner will host the USL Championship Final at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 28.

Game Summary: Louisville City FC vs. Charlotte Independence

Date: Nov. 13, 2021

Venue: Lynn Family Stadium

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Weather: 37 degrees, clear

Man of the Match: Brian Ownby

Attendance: 9,155

Scoring

Louisville City FC (0, 1, 1)

Charlotte Independence (0, 0, 0)

Goals

Louisville City FC:

89’ Cameron Lancaster (pen)

Lineups

Louisville City FC: 1 – Chris Hubbard, 19 – Oscar Jimenez, 4 – Sean Totsch, 6 – Wesley Charpie, 42 – Jonathan Gomez, 13 – Corben Bone (85’ 7 – Napo Matsoso), 11 – Niall McCabe (71’ 29 – Antoine Hoppenot), 36 – Paolo DelPiccolo (71’ 12 – Tyler Gibson), 10 – Brian Ownby, 9 – Jorge Gonzalez Asensi (90’ 15 – Pat McMahon), 17 – Cameron Lancaster (90’ 21 – Kyle Greig)

Subs not used: 1 – Parker Siegfried, 20 – Jimmy McLaughlin

Head Coach: Danny Cruz

Charlotte Independence: 1 – Austin Pack, 2 – Kevin Riascos (90’ 8 – Marcelo Palomino), 3 – Hugh Roberts, 22 – Christian Fuchs, 4 – Jake Areman, 7 – Joel Johnson (90’ 16 – Jose Bizama), 13 – Brandt Bronico, 32 – Gabriel Obertan (34’ 9 – Irvin Parra), 56 – Sylvian Marveaux, 19 – Enzo Martinez, 29 – Dane Kelly

Subs not used: 33 – Brandon Miller, 10 – Valentin Sabella, 12 – Adam Armour, 88 – Christian Dean

Head Coach: Mike Jeffries

Stats Summary: Louisville City FC / Charlotte Independence

Shots: 13 / 10

Shots on Goal: 5 / 3

Possession: 55.1% / 44.9%

Fouls: 14 / 25

Offside: 0 / 4

Corner Kicks: 4 / 5

Discipline Summary

Louisville City FC

5’ Paolo DelPiccolo (yellow card)

21’ Brian Ownby (yellow card)

43’ Niall McCabe (yellow card)

Charlotte Independence

35’ Dane Kelly (yellow card)

44’ Irvin Parra (yellow card)

76’ Kevin Riascos (yellow card)

88’ Enzo Martinez (yellow card)

88’ Austin Pack (yellow card)

90’ Christian Fuchs (yellow card)

90’+ Joel Johnson (red card)

Referee: Elijio Arreguin


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