PDL NEWS RELEASE: Saturday, August 4, 2012
Ayris’ goal earns 2-1 win against the Carolina Dynamo
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Forest City London claimed its first PDL Championship as Jordan Ayris scored a second-half goal to lift his side to a 2-1 victory against the Carolina Dynamo on Saturday night at Macpherson Stadium. Ayris, an All-Central Conference selection, used his quick feet to capitalize on a scramble in the Dynamo penalty area to score the game-winning goal.
The victory capped a remarkable run by London through the playoffs that saw the club not only win its first playoff game, but defeat the Thunder Bay Chill, Michigan Bucks and Sounders FC U23 on the way to the championship game.
“It’s been great, all the boys are great on the pitch, off the pitch we’re good friends, they couldn’t be more welcoming,” Ayris said. “Coming in with the boys who had been here last year, or for two or three years, made it easy for me to come in.”
FC London opened nervously, with goalkeeper Reece Richardson almost being made to pay for a poor clearance by Hakan Ilhan in the third minute, the UNC-Greensboro forward’s chip going just over the empty goal. FC London settled soon, though, and was able to hold possession better than the Dynamo in the first 20 minutes.
Carolina that took the lead in the 26th minute, however, as it sprang forward on a counter-attack after a turnover in midfield, and Ilhan’s pass split the defense to find Donnie Smith, who timed his run perfectly as London’s back four looked for an offside flag. The UNC-Charlotte standout easily rounded Richardson and tucked his finish into the back of the net.
London was able to get back on even terms quickly, as the Dynamo’s goal spurred it forward in greater numbers. They were rewarded for their pressure as Bryan Da Cruz sent in a good cross from the left that was flicked goalward by Ayris. A Dynamo defender headed away, but the ball came to Carl Haworth as he cut through the penalty area and hit a perfect right-footed volley into the right corner of the net.
The Dynamo almost retook the lead through Smith moments later, but his volleyed effort went high and wide of the goal off Shane Malcolm’s cross, leaving the game tied 1-1 at the break. The Dynamo continued to have most of the play to start the second half, with Ilhan and Smith trying to combine with Malcolm on the right side, but it was Haworth who produced the first big save as his rifled shot from 25 yards out was parried away by Peyton Ford.
The decisive moment came with 14 minutes to go as London got a free kick about 35 yards from goal. The Dynamo were able to clear the initial free kick, but Tyler Hemming picked up possession on the right side and cut back onto his left foot. The center back floated a cross into the penalty area, and the ball landed at the feet of Ayris, who flicked the ball quickly onto his left foot and finished tidily.
The Dynamo threw everything forward in the closing stages, and almost grabbed a late equalizer when substitute Mamadee Nyepon broke into the left side of the penalty area, only for Richardson to make an outstanding save with his left foot. Despite Carolina’s pressure, FC London was able to hold on and claim a remarkable victory.
“It’s unbelievable,” FC London coach Martin Painter said. “I’m so proud of the players and what we’ve accomplished. It’s been a challenging season, we’ve had our ups and downs, and we came together and fought through adversity and put in strong performances these last four games, tonight especially because Carolina’s a great team, it’s fantastic.”
The top developmental men’s league in North American, the PDL features 73 teams within four conferences across the United States and Canada. The PDL season consists of 16 regular season matches for each team, eight home and eight away, and provides elite collegiate players the opportunity to taste a higher level of competition while maintaining their eligibility. In addition to league play, PDL teams compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as well as various exhibitions. The PDL has proven to be an important stepping-stone for top professionals now playing throughout the world.