After finally overcoming its drought of wins on the road last week, the Carolina RailHawks couldn’t seize momentum with the return home Saturday in front of the announced crowd of 3,140.
The visiting Tampa Bay Rowdies won 4-3, scoring two goals in the first 10 minutes of the game. Previously, the RailHawks had not allowed a NASL visitor to score in the first half.
“We were kind of hoping to start a bit of a run here, a winning streak. That’s what was on everyone’s mind, but we showed up about 10 minutes late to the game,” forward Zack Schilawski said. “The road wins are great, but you’ve got to back it up at home.”
Carolina scored two goals in a three minute stretch early in the second half, but Tampa added two more in the game’s final 12 minutes. An eventual two-minute stretch starting in the 86th – the RailHawks scored and had a man sent off – made for a lively ending, but a loss nonetheless.
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It is Carolina’s second NASL home loss in its last three games.
Carolina (2-4-0, 7th in the fall season standings) entered the week in fourth and final position for the playoffs (6-7-2, 5th overall). By the end of the night, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers had leapfrogged them.
“Overall we’re just very disappointed in a lot of things,” coach Colin Clarke said. “We conceded four bad goals at home. It’s just not what we’re about.”
The first RailHawks goal was by Schilawski, who, after receiving a through ball from Enzo Martinez, finished a 1-v-1 counterattack chance.
The second was a Martinez goal – on a low, bouncing strike from the top of the box – with Schilawski on the assist.
Clarke said the team kept its focus during the week despite a trade that sent Cesar Elizondo – who had played in nearly every RailHawks game over the past one and a half seasons – to San Antonio for Danny Barrera.
Barrera helped Carolina score its third goal in the 86th minute. His shot slid off a Tampa player and skipped over the goalmouth for an own goal to make it 4-3.
“To get three points at Carolina is a feat in itself,” said fourth-year Tampa coach Ricky Hill, who said he had never won at WakeMed Soccer Park in the regular season.