CARY, NC (Sept 8, 2012) - The San Antonio Scorpions finished their road trip on a high note, defeating the Carolina RailHawks 1-0 thanks to a late goal by forward Jeff Cunningham on Saturday night in front of a crowd of 5,807 at Wake Med Scoccer Park.
The first-place Scorpions now hold a six-point advantage over the Tampa Bay Rowdies, inching closer towards winning the NASL regular season championship and earning a bye into the semifinal round of the playoffs.
"Seeing Jeff [Cunningham] score that goal was an exciting moment," Scorpions Head Coach Tim Hankinson said. "Strikers need to get into a rhythm and we believe this is the start of great things to come."
The Scorpions will face the RailHawks again at home on Sunday, Sept. 16. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Heroes Stadium.
After the start of the match was delayed two hours due to weather, the Scorpions wasted no time going on the attack, with midfielder Walter Ramirez making a run on the left side and delivering a cross that found its way to the feet of defender Ryan Cochrane at the top of the penalty area. But his shot was wide of the net and was deflected out of play.
Midfielder Kevin Harmse unleashed a blast from 25 yards in the 14th minute, but the shot went wide of the post to keep the match scoreless.
In the 19th minute, forward Pablo Campos ripped a long-distance shot of his own looking to put the Scorpions in the lead.
One minute later, the Scorpions continued to put offensive pressure, this time with midfielder Jonathan Greenfield delivering a through ball to forward Esteban Bayona on the left side. Bayona made a run towards the goal, but his shot sailed high of the crossbar.
The second half was filled with numerous chances on both sides, with the Scorpions and RailHawks exchanging scoring chances throughout.
In the 78th minute, midfielder Hans Denissen nearly put the Scorpions with a curling shot that went got past Carolina goalkeeper Ray Burse, but the shot missed the post by inches.
The Scorpions' resilience finally came through in the 84th minute, when forward Jeff Cunningham put a shot past Ray Burse into the back of the net to give the Scorpions a 1-0 lead late in the match. It was the first goal for Cunningham, Major League Soccer's all-time leading goal scorer, as a member of the Scorpions.
Walter Ramirez picked up an assist on the goal, giving him a team-high six assists on the season.
The Scorpions were able to hang on, giving Daryl Sattler his 13th shutout of the season. The Scorpions have shut out the RailHawks in all three meetings so far this season, outscoring Carolina 10-0.
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