The Carolina RailHawks have announced the addition of two local players who are returning to play in the Triangle: Tommy Drake and Brian Ackley. Both players experienced great success while playing as youth in the Triangle before deciding to attend universities out of state. Drake attended Clemson University and Ackley to Indiana University.
Ackley, Cary native and standout for Athens Drive High School and CASL Elite, chose to play for Indiana University after leading Athens Drive to the 2004 NC 4A State Championship. The powerful midfielder/ forward led all Hoosiers with 19 points in 2006 (7 goals and 5 assists). Ackley played in the RailHawks’ U23 program from 2007 through 2009. Following his collegiate career Ackley played professionally in New Zealand, playing 13 matches in 2010 and recording 7 goals and 8 assists. He then signed with FK Pribram (Czech Republic) appearing in 8 matches, scoring 2 goals and 3 assists in 2011. He returned to the US, signing late in the season with the Harrisburg City Islanders, where he contributed to a playoff run and final appearance.
“I’m excited to be back in Raleigh with the opportunity to play in front of friends and family,” said Ackley. “I have huge respect for what the RailHawks are about on and off the field and look forward to bringing a championship to NC.”
Drake, a Chapel Hill native, played with the RailHawks U23 program for three years and will be making his debut as a professional. A standout for Triangle Futbol Club and Chapel Hill High School, Drake was named a 2006 NSCAA All-American and was a nominee for Gatorade Player of the Year. Departing for Clemson, Drake led the team in points with 15, tied in goals (5), and led in assists (5) in his senior season. He finished his career with 14 goals and 13 assists for 41 points and received an invitation to the 2011 MLS Combine.
“I’m very happy to sign with the RailHawks and get to play at home. I want to play a big part this season to win a championship,” said Drake. “I am looking forward to continue learning from Coach Bader, who I worked with in the U23 program, and Coach Clarke.”
“We are lucky to have Tommy and Brian be a part of our team for this season. Both are talented and can provide options in the midfield or up top,” said Head Coach Colin Clarke. “It is great that we are able to sign players that played in our U23s and they demonstrate the level of talent that the youth systems have in North Carolina.”
Drake and Ackley, along with the rest of the 2012 RailHawks will make their debut on Sunday, March 4 at 3:00 pm against Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the 4th Annual Hilton Garden Inn Durham Southpoint Community Shield Match. Fans may purchase tickets for the match through the Community Shield Pack and Season Tickets are still available. Individual tickets can be purchased for any home match this season online or at the Cruizers box office. For more information on RailHawks tickets and game details call the Cruizers box office at or e-mail email@example.com.
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