CARY — Every game the Carolina RailHawks play -- especially every game at home -- they're going in for the win.
But after the circumstances of the past two matches against the Vancouver Whitecaps, played Saturday in Vancouver and Tuesday in Cary, they have to feel pretty good about getting two points from two draws against them.
"In games like today, we'll take it," goalkeeper Eric Reed said of Tuesday night's 1-1 draw. "I think we're still a little disappointed in tonight's result. A game at home, pivotal time at the season, we needed to win. But we'll take the tie, based on the circumstances."
Circumstances which included the RailHawks going down by a goal in the 66th minute after being outpossessed for the entire first half. Circumstances which saw Reed manage a season-high seven saves on the Whitecaps' constant possessions in the final third.
In a similar fashion on Saturday in Vancouver, the RailHawks were outshot 22-9 and relied on heroics from their goalkeeper to preserve a scoreless tie. The games were about as closely matched as they could have been, coach Martin Rennie said.
"I think this was really similar to the game in Vancouver," he said. "And in the end, I think two draws is just about right."
Tuesday in the midfield, Carolina (13-5-5) struggled. Passes were sent long or collected easily by Vancouver defenders, and any sort of connection with the strikers up top was stifled almost immediately.
So the RailHawks' fast-paced frenzy saw them enter halftime with a nil-nil score, and 20 minutes later, Vancouver (7-9-6) capitalized.
Striker Marcus Haber, who came in as a seventh-minute substitute to replace an injured player, gathered up an assist from Mason Trafford and was able to trip up Carolina's Devon McKenney to head straight for the cage.
His low shot to the right corner beat Reed easily and it put the Whitecaps up 1-0.
Rennie began the attacking emphasis in the 65th minute, sending on four offensive substitutes in the next 20 minutes as they began to push up toward the goal.
And it was Andriy Budnyy, a 78th-minute sub, who finally made good. As midfielder John Cunliffe -- also a late addition -- made his way down the field, he parceled a perfect pass to Budnyy on the right side. He was able to beat his man and then the keeper to draw even with a low shot to the right corner in the 87th minute.
"We just tried to get everything you have up top, and I think that's what happened," Budnyy said of the late attacks.
"And I think in the end we just picked up intensity. The guys in the middle started working harder, and the forwards as well, and I think that paid off."
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