BAYAMON, PUERTO RICO — Puerto Rico's Petter Villegas capitalized on a RailHawks miscommunication at the back and scored the game's only goal in the 57th minute to lead the Islanders to a 1-0 victory over the Carolina RailHawks on Saturday.
"It was a frustrating night for us," said RailHawks coach Martin Rennie. "In the first half, we played pretty well. We had lots of possession and we were never in trouble, but we didn't find our rhythm in the final third."
While the RailHawks dropped their third straight match, they showed an attacking verve that has been absent in their previous two matches.
The RailHawks nearly got on the board in the eighth minute, but Matt Watson's centering pass was just out of reach for Pablo Campos.
Puerto Rico goalkeeper Ray Burse played a large role in the Islanders' success, denying the RailHawks' Etienne Barbara on at least three solid scoring opportunities
"Their goalkeeper made some very good saves," Rennie said.
But the RailHawks own goalkeeper Brad Knighton was also solid between the pipes.
His four saves netted him the club record for most saves in a season (110). He made a sprawling save on Villegas' attempt from 20 yards in the 51st minute and denied Jared Van Schaik on a breakaway in the 74th.
The match's only goal was the result of miscommunication. Puerto Rico's Kevin Villaroel played a ball in from the left flank. Knighton charged off his line as defender Tyler Lassiter closed in, with Villegas also racing toward the ball. As the ball came across the six-yard box, both RailHawks pulled away from the ball, allowing it to hit Villegas in stride. He tucked it into the open net with ease.
The NASL Regular Season Champion RailHawks return home next weekend to close out the regular season. They'll meet Minnesota on Saturday at WakeMed Soccer Park at 7 p.m.
"It was a disappointing night for us," Rennie said, "but we remain focused on what we need to do ahead of our last game next weekend and getting prepared for the Playoffs."
PUERTO RICO 1, CAROLINA 0
CAR: GK Brad Knighton, D Kupono Low, D Devon McKenney, D Gareth Evans, D Lassiter, M Floyd Franks, M Tony McManus, M Matt Watson (Nick Zimmerman, 80), M Jonny Steele (Brian Farber, 87), F Pablo Campos, F Etienne Barbara
PRI: GK Ray Burse, D Richard Martinez, D Jamie Cunningham, D Jay Needham, D Scott Jones, M Aaron Pitchkolan, M Osei Telesford (Kevin Villaroel, 50), M Jared Van Schaik, M Petter Villegas, F Yaikel Perez, F Matt Bouraee (Junior Sandoval, 89)
PRI: Petter Villegas (Kevin Villaroel, 57)
CAR: Etienne Barbara, 71
PRI: Jamie Cunningham, 65