RailHawks, down Atlanta, win third straight NASL game

The Carolina RailHawks are on a roll.

After going winless through its first nine North American Soccer League games, Carolina won its third straight league game Saturday to give it five wins in its last six games.

The RailHawks defeated the Atlanta Silverbacks 2-0 thanks to goals from two Cary natives: Zack Schilawski and Brian Ackley.

Carolina (3-4-5) is now in sixth place in the NASL standings entering Saturday’s home match against FC Edmonton, and just three points back of third place.

“Today we earned a valuable three points. We had a strong showing defensively with the shutout and finished the opportunities in front of the goal,” said coach Colin Clarke in a statement.

The former Wake Forest duo of Schilawski and Austin da Luz opened the RailHawks’ scoring, as Schilawski one-touched da Luz’s pass over the Atlanta (1-6-5) goalkeeper in the 44th minute. It was the Cary High graduate’s second goal of the season.

Ty Shipalane assisted Ackley in the 86th minute to seal the match for Carolina.

It was the RailHawks’ second shutout in league play.

Edmonton entering town: Carolina’s opponent at 7 p.m. Saturday currently is three points behind the RailHawks in the league standings. The two teams played in Canada on May 6, and Edmonton (3-6-2) came away with a 3-0 victory.

A few games later, the RailHawks made changes to the lineup that have turned around their season.

Carolina has given up just nine goals in its last eight games, and three goals in its last four league games. It’s also had a five-goal outburst against Minnesota on June 9 and a six-goal win in its opening U.S. Open Cup game against PSA Elite.

Front-runner fluctuation: Two and a half weeks ago, Carolina knocked off the NASL-leading Puerto Rico Islanders. A week later, it defeated the Minnesota Stars, who were the NASL’s new league leaders.

After last week’s games, the NASL has yet another team atop the league table. The San Antonio Scorpions, a first-year franchise, are 6-1-4 and are the third team in as many weeks to call themselves “league leaders.”