CARY — It wasn't Pablo Campos' 6-foot-3 frame, but rather his neon green shoes that drew the attention of Carolina RailHawks teammate Matt Watson late in the first half Saturday.
Watson saw Campos streaking downfield, played a ball on the ground that hit the forward in stride and let the newcomer do the rest.
Campos lifted his shot into the far right corner of the net as Montreal Impact goalkeeper Bill Gaudette came out to challenge, putting the RailHawks up a goal in the 35th minute.
Carolina held on at WakeMed Soccer Park for a 2-1 victory in the team's second North American Soccer League match of the season.
"As I picked up the ball I wanted to play it out wide, but at the last minutes I saw Pablo's boots - I don't know if you've seen them but they're bright green - I just caught them out the corner of my eyes and slipped it into that little gap," Watson said. "He took a little touch and a good finish."
It was the RailHawks' first win of young season, evening their record at 1-1.
It was the third win in team history when conceding the first goal - but what was most impressive about this come-from-behind effort is that it took all of 24 minutes in the first half to erase the game's initial deficit.
"I've got a lot of confidence in these players, and I believe we can do really well this season once we find a little rhythm," RailHawks coach Martin Rennie said.
"They showed great character to come back. Teams that are going to do well have to show character, and we showed that tonight. We also showed a fair bit of quality scoring those two goals - I thought they were excellent goals."
The Impact got on the board quickly, with Kevin Hatchi hammering home a rebound off a corner kick in the 11th minute.
All three of the goals allowed by the RailHawks this year have come off set pieces.
But Carolina evened the score when forward Etienne Barbara got his second goal of the year in the 22nd minute. After a scrum in the box, Barbara took a touch before sending in his shot, which deflected off a defender before going into the goal.
Thirteen minutes later, Watson hit Campos downfield for the winning goal. Through the first two games of the year, Watson has been one of the most active RailHawks on both ends of the field.
"I felt like in the first half, [Watson] he was really on top of the game," Rennie said of his midfielder. "He was one of the best players in the park tonight."
In a series that has made for some bad blood between the two, this year's first meeting went by without much controversy or incident.
There was a brief scrum in the 31st minute when Montreal forward Ali Gerba received a yellow card for his foul on defender Brad Rusin.
Rusin had words for Gerba, and the two teams had to be separated temporarily, but nothing spilled over the way last year's meeting in the league semifinals when the Impact players assaulted officials.
Carolina will host NASL expansion franchise FC Edmonton, currently atop the league standings, on Wednesday.
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