CARY — It ended in an unpleasantly familiar way for the Carolina RailHawks.
Attacking the opponent's goal frantically in the last several minutes, the RailHawks fought back from a deficit that had come in the same way, yet again.
For the RailHawks in the past month, set pieces have been their kryptonite.
Carolina gave up two goals on sets Saturday, which decided the match against the Puerto Rico Islanders 2-1.
"I mean, I don't know, but that's another goal, two goals, because [the] first goal was a set piece that didn't get cleared," RailHawks coach Martin Rennie said. "It's frustrating, obviously you've got to give credit to the other teams for being good on set plays, but that one, the second one, was really disappointing."
And five of the last six goals the RailHawks (7-4-3) have conceded -- and they've conceded three times as many in the past four games than they had in the first 12 -- have come off exactly that.
That includes two against Puerto Rico, three against Wilmington in U.S. Open Cup play and two against bottom-ranked Minnesota on June 13.
Saturday's game seemed written from the same script.
"I don't know. I don't," said defender Mark Schulte, who moved from center to right back for the first time Saturday. "We've got to figure out a way to do better for ourselves on those.
"We're going to have to have a sit-down session on Monday, just the boys, and figure out what's going on."
Rennie said it's nothing the team hasn't talked about before -- the issue remains in the execution.
"We need to make sure on set plays we're attacking the ball, we're beating the guy that we're marking to the ball," he said. "And that's definitely one thing, making sure the little practical things we're working on, we really need to be really sharp with it."
After the first 15 minutes were riddled with just-misses and blocked rockets for both teams, play slowed until the final few minutes of the half.
RailHawks defender Amir Lowery opened up the scoring in the 40th minute with the first goal of his professional career.
The Wake Forest alum blasted a shot in off a throw-in by Schulte, the fifth time this season the RailHawks have scored off his throw.
But only two minutes later, the Islanders fought back. First defender Cristian Arrieta's free kick hit the crossbar with a crack. When Carolina misplayed the clear attempt after that shot, former RailHawk Jonathan Steele received the ball from the left sideline and netted into the lower corner.
After a first half that saw the RailHawks outshoot the Islanders 8-5, a draw going into halftime was disappointing against the highest scoring team in the USL.
"You can't take any plays off," said Lowry, who called the Islanders the best team the RailHawks have played this season. "Have to have concentration, focus all the time. We slacked a little bit, and got punched."
Peter Villegas scored off a free kick in the 63rd minute to provide the winning margin.
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