USL-2….What a year

As our USL-2 season has come to an end, let’s recap on our Southern Conference Champions and top 4 team in the nation. Going into the season we knew they would be a powerhouse team after their run in the Open Cup. Before the season started, when I met up with Jamie Davis and asked why he chose NC Fusion he said, “I’ve come to obviously win a national championship, develop as a player, and this is the best place to be.”


The men started off the season hot winning the first home game of the season 2-1 against North Carolina FC U23. Then they received their second win of the season 7-2 against Tobacco Road. After this big win I met with captain Joao Gomiero to see how they were creating such cohesiveness after just a few weeks, “I think it’s just been the first week we’ve been together and it’s just like a learning curve from all of us. Everybody comes from a different place and everybody comes from a different level so it’s just getting those two weeks of training together, understanding what we do well and not do well, going and fixing them, and going into the next game knowing we can do better.”


Heading into their next game against one of the toughest opponents of the season, West Virginia, they pulled through a tough victory of 1-0. They went on to win six more games and tie one game before they faced West Virginia again. This game was a battle and ended in a result of 2-2. Coming to the end of the season our USl-2 men defeated Tobacco Road 5-1 and Wake FC 8-0. With these two wins the team clenched the South Atlantic Division and secured their spot in the playoffs. In the last game of the season, they faced West Virginia one more time leading to the only loss of the season 1-2. The overall record for your USL-2 this season was 11-2-1. They had a nearly perfect season and were pumped going into the playoffs.


In the first game of the playoffs, they would be facing The Villages. After going into halftime 1-1 then losing a man to play the rest of the game with 10, the boys showed grit and drive to keep the game tied and head to PK’s. Joao Gomiero would come through, winning the game with the final PK driven into the upper net stunning the keeper, everyone stormed the field and they would be moving on. Heading into the conference semifinal vs. our neighbors Asheville City they took them down 2-1 and were heading to the Southern Conference Championship against One Knoxville.


With the game underway, it didn’t take long for Mason Duval to put one away. With it tied 1-1 during the second half, they fought through a physical battle and were able to put another one away late in the game to win 2-1. They were once again the Southern Conference Champions. Heading into the national semifinal the storms took over. Delaying the game until the next morning they would be facing the Long Island Rough Riders. Through a tough battle they did end up falling short. Looking back on the season this team won 11 of their 12 conference games, won the South Atlantic Division, became Southern Conference Champions for the second year in a row, and were one of the top 4 teams in the country.


I met with Head Coach Chris Williams to see how he felt about the season and all the success this group of guys created for the program. When asked what he was most proud of he said, “To win a region back to back is pretty special. That is definitely not an easy thing to do or achieve and the fact that the players did that is pretty special. The relationships that they built amongst each other and the togetherness within the group. Our hope is that they fought for something that was a little bit bigger than themselves. That is something Liam and I have always wanted so we are really proud of them for doing that for sacrificing themselves for the team and being selfless, so we are really proud of that and how they represented NC Fusion.”


I also asked Coach Williams what he saw in store for the future of this team, “Our goal as a club was to try and create a nationally recognized program. Our hope is that we’re slowly getting there, and we want to continue those successes. Our hope is that we put the club on a national stage which is obviously exciting for many different reasons. We want to try and promote as many players to the next level as we possibly can, and our hope is that we can continue the success that we have had in the previous three years and build on what we have and bring in great humans and great players.”

Jenna Parker

From Player to Coach: John Pardini

Coming off of two conference championships, NC Fusion’s USL-W team is looking for their third this season. Leading the team throughout the victories is head coach John Pardini. With the season almost underway, I met up with John to find out when his love of soccer began. It all started when John was two years old. He first began as any soccer player did, by just kicking the ball around. His older brother was in soccer and so his parents decided to put him on his first team when John was just three years old. John played all sports as most kids do, but found that soccer just stuck with him. He began learning new skills around ages three, four, and five which drove his youth career. Along the way John had great coaches such as Chris Linn, David Price, and Todd Lippes who helped him develop throughout his youth career.  

John started out by playing for his local recreation team. By U11, he had moved on to a bigger club, which then led to him playing for Albertson Club in high school. John continued to grow in skill and as a result his team went to two national finals. John had the aspiration like all kids to play collegiate soccer. He participated in showcase events and found the interest of 7 or 8 colleges at the beginning of his junior year. With a connection at Fordham University and it being close to home, John decided at the end of his junior year/ beginning of senior year this is where he wanted to be.  

Collegiate soccer is a big achievement for any athlete. Your game goes to a whole new level. When asked what John’s favorite aspect of collegiate soccer was, he said the travel. He enjoyed going to other universities and visiting exciting cities like South Florida and Daytona. He also had a great connection with his head coach Jim McElderry (who is now the head coach at Rutgers University). McElderry understood John’s personality and was able to reign him in and help him channel his energy to soccer. When asked what John’s greatest achievement in his soccer career was, he said personally “winning U20 Red Bull Player of the year” and team wise “getting to two national finals in my youth career.” With his college career coming to an end, a new chapter opened for John when he began coaching. 

When John was young, he always loved watching any sport because each one had strategy involved and you have to be a thinker of the game. Part of his love is the strategy, influencing a game, and how a player thinks. Another aspect of coaching he loves is the relationships he gets to build with people. You spend so much time with other coaches and players. He explained how humbling it is for him to watch a kid grow in their skill and help them achieve their goal. Even watching a kid go through a tough experience, come out on the other side, and go onto reaching their goals has been one of Johns’ favorite aspects of coaching.  

As John has watched many kids come through the program and grow, he also has grown himself and learned new things. John has learned how to have great emotional regulation. He “learned that kids need a ton of support and someone who always has their back in tough moments.” John described how every kid needs something different at different moments in their lives and how you share your communication with them in that moment can stick with the kid for the rest of their life. Kids hang on to every word you say, so John works on bringing the best version of himself so that the kids have a great experience. It has taken time for John to get to and properly prepare for the conversations he has with these kids as he sometimes feels like a guide for them. When being part of a team, kids are working their hardest to grow their skills, but ultimately throughout your playing career you also develop mentally, and John really takes this into perspective.  

With any sport, you win some and you lose some. When asked what the most challenging aspect of coaching is for John he said “dealing with failure.” Not just the failure of losing a game though, but also when a player fails. The devastation of missing the final shot to win a game or not being able to save a goal, as athletes everyone goes through failure. As a coach, John feels this responsibility to the players, parents, and everyone involved to try and help them succeed. A way he does encourage and help players that might be dealing with failure or disappointment is by getting around to them and giving them extra help or encouragement. He makes sure he is getting to every player and making sure they know it’s okay.  

 I asked John what he believed his greatest impact is on NC Fusion, he noted helping create a regional program in the conference Carolinas, establishing a player platform, and connecting Fusion’s youth program to the U23 program. In addition, he has continued to try and build a culture around women’s soccer where kids know they have the opportunity to turn the sport they love into collegiate or a pro experience. John also hopes a big impact he has had has been on every kid that comes through Fusion making them feel valued and have a sense of belonging to Fusions community. Lastly, John’s greatest achievement in his coaching career has been leading the USL-W team to win two conference championships.  On May 18th  the USL-W team begins its journey for its third title. 

Story written by Jenna Parker

The Kids are Alright

On a wet Tuesday night in the American Legion Memorial Stadium current ECNL U19 player, Colton Sessoms, receives a pinpoint through ball to calmly slot past the Charlotte Independence goalkeeper. This was the fourth goal in a historic 4-2 win in the Open Cup, over the professional outfit from Charlotte.

Cue manic goal celebrations in one corner of the iconic downtown stadium, in which head coach, Chris Williams, finally emerged from the bottom of pile of players. The collective sprit shown and genuine happiness by all, for yet another youth player contributing to the USL 2 men’s team on field success, was truly amazing to see.

In the previous round, a convincing win over South Carolina United Bantams, another U19 player, Steven Hernandez, scored 2 goals to swing the game in Fusion’s favor. In total, 6 youth players have been involved on the USL 2 Open Cup squad so far.

Adam Reekie- Head of Boys ECNL said “it’s great the see the young lads doing so well at that level. We have a very good crop of young players at the club, including the boys with the USL 2 team.  We are lucky to have a head coach who see’s the value of young players and trusts them on the field”.

USL 2 head coach, Chris Williams had this to say: “we are so pleased for the young players in the squad. It really shows a pathway for our young players! Our hope is that this inspires the next group of players to be involved in such a fantastic competition!” 

Next up is a tough draw against USL-1 side, Richmond Kickers on Wednesday 20th  6:30 Kickoff at City Stadium; Richmond, Va.

U17- Alexis Enriquez, U19- Jahmir Flowers, U19-Colton Sessoms, U19-Steven Hernandez, U19- Mikey Hernandez, U17-Tate Lorentz

 Good luck boys in the next round!

Entering the 3rd Round

NC Fusion USL-2 are entering into the third round with plans to make it to the round of 32 (4th Round). This 3rd round is a tough draw against USL-1 side, Richmond Kickers on Wednesday 20th  6:30 Kickoff at City Stadium; Richmond, Va.

Come out and support the Triads USL-2 Team

Cup Starts in 2 Weeks

The Lamar Cup ( US Soccer National Championship) begins in two weeks.  An invite to this prestigious tournament was extended to our USL-2 Team because of their amazing performance last year.

Our first round game will be against the South Carolina United on March 23rd.  The game will be streamed but we want to pack the stands to support our team. 

Join us on March 23rd in Columbia SC to cheer our team on to the second round

Southeastern Freight Lines Soccer Center

115 Sunbelt Blvd, Columbia, SC 29203