The Atlanta Silverbacks were able to spoil the Carolina Railhawks’ spring championship hopes for at least one more week with a 1-1 draw at WakeMed Soccer Park Saturday night.
The Silverbacks started the game brightly with forward Brad Stisser getting a long pass in the box. His shot narrowly missed the far post, and it would be the first of many chances for the Silverbacks.
The game went back and forth, with Railhawks midfielder Cesar Elizondo creating numerous chances for the home team with his speed. In the 17th minute, Elizondo beat a couple Silverbacks defenders and almost found forward Brian Shriver, but his pass went behind him and back to the Silverbacks.
The Silverbacks’ defense would be called on again in the 23rd and 24th minutes with both Schilawski and Shriver getting chances on goal. The Silverbacks would go on to create some chances of their own as the game really opened up.
In the 25th minute, forward Ruben Luna found some space at the top of the Railhawks’ 18-yard box and sent a rocket that Railhawks goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald could only deflect away.
The half ended scoreless with both teams failing to convert some quality chances. The game was very back and forth and the second half would be far more dramatic.
With both teams looking for the first goal, the Silverbacks would find it. Off a free kick in the 64th minute, midfielder Danny Barrera found defender Bobby Reiss, who put the ball in the back of the net for the lead and his first professional goal.
With a 1-0 lead, Head Coach Brian Haynes’ team was not satisfied, and in the 65th minute, Stisser found space on the right side and fired a shot that Fitzgerald deflected right to midfielder Pablo Cruz. Cruz tried to put the Silverbacks up two, but Fitzgerald somehow got a second hand to the ball deflecting it out.
The Railhawks would repeat their late-game theatrics in the 89th minute with midfielder Austin Da Luz heading home the equalizer from a Ciaran O’Brien corner kick.
The game would end in a draw, but not without some drama as Silverbacks defender Beto Navarro was sent off for reacting to a hard foul on fellow defender Mike Randolph.
In dramatic fashion, the spring title was put off until next week with the draw. The Railhawks retained the top spot in the league and with a win next Thursday on the road at San Antonio; they could seal the spring season title and a spot in the Soccer Bowl. The Silverbacks are still in the running and with a win at Minnesota and a Carolina loss; they could hoist the title after a strong spring season.
The Silverbacks will play their final match of the spring season July 4th at NSC Stadium against Minnesota United FC. Kick off is at 7:30 and the game will be live streaming on Ustream.
Silverbacks XI: GK Nasco, D Randolph, D Navarro, D Bloom, D Reiss, M Cruz ( 82’ Lancaster), M Blanco, M Carr (62’ Mendes), M Barrera, F Stisser (69’ James), F Luna
Railhawks XI: GK Fitzgerald, D Low, D Hamilton, D Graye (75’ Ackley), D Rutkiewicz, M Da Luz, M Franks, M Millington, M Elizondo (88’ Beckford), F Shriver, F Schilawski (82’ O’Brien)