Hawks out to reverse history

July has been a tough month

Staff WriterJuly 17, 2009 

  • When: 7 p.m.

    Where: WakeMed Soccer Park

    Tickets: $20, $15 or $10

    SATURDAY

    vs. Estudiantes Tecos

    When: 7 p.m.

    Where: WakeMed Soccer Park

    Tickets: $19, $24, $29 presale (plus $3 after)

    Info: www.carolinarailhawks.com or 919-859-5425

— Caleb Norkus is one of two players who has been with the Carolina RailHawks throughout their three-year existence.

But even he didn't realize exactly how poor the team's record has been in the month of July.

So poor, in fact, that before Saturday's victory over the Charleston Battery, the RailHawks had never won a league game during the month.

"Oh, gosh," Norkus said. "Are you kidding me?"

Norkus and the rest of the RailHawks are hoping that July came in June this year. Carolina ended a league winless streak Saturday that had begun May 29.

But if you ask coach Martin Rennie, that winless streak isn't nearly as bad as it sounds.

"If that's a slump, then I'm not worried about it, 'cause it wasn't really," he said with a laugh, going through each of the two draws and two losses and pointing out the close chances or setbacks they faced. "It's really not that bad."

Rennie led the RailHawks -- who have never finished with more than nine wins in a season -- to a 7-1-2 record to start the season. With the team now at 8-4-3, he said the critics need to be realistic and remember that this is still a young team.

"When we're still building a team, you're not going to win every single game," he said. "We've already recently won as many games as the team did last year in the whole season."

And even if you term the four-game winless streak a slump, it looks to be about over.

Exhibition wins over Wilmington and Panama helped, but it was really the win at Charleston -- the first home loss for the Battery this season -- that helped the RailHawks move on.

"It was definitely a big victory, but whether it was or not we were the first to beat them at home, we were really ready and prepared and confident and knowing we were going to go in to win," Norkus said.

It turns out the RailHawks' woes aren't all that uncommon.

In fact, every team but two in the league has had at least one run of five or more games with one or fewer wins.

Rennie knew this team would have one, too, and he's trying to keep the season -- and Carolina's fourth-place standing -- in perspective.

"Maybe people expect us to win every game -- you're not going to," he said. "And when you look at those results, I mean -- it's only like four defeats so far, and three ties. That's really good."

The RailHawks have two opportunities this weekend to build on their success, beginning today with a league game against Vancouver.

Saturday the RailHawks take on Mexican first division squad Estudiantes Tecos in the third edition of Futbol Tecate.

rachel.ullrich@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8925

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