With the New Year just a couple days away, CarolinaRailHawks.com is taking a look back at some of the biggest and best RailHawks moments from 2012. With all of its excitement, 2012 showed the continued growth and stability of the RailHawks and the North American Soccer League.
Here are our Top Ten stories from 2012:
10. New Commissioner: On November 27th, the NASL announced the appointment of Bill Peterson as the league’s new commissioner. Peterson has an extensive sports career including stints with NFL Europe, AEG’s Chicago Fire and Home Depot Center, and Centerplate. Peterson has already put his touch on the NASL with a strong emphasis on social media and fan interaction.
9. Four straight years of postseason play: After a 2008 season that did not include a trip to the postseason, the RailHawks have experienced four straight years and 5 out of the last 6 seasons of post season play. The club kicked off its first season 6 years ago in 2007.
8. Split Season schedule: On September 5th, the NASL announced it would change the format of the league’s season similar to other soccer leagues around the world. The new format will feature two separate and distinct round-robin competitions with the winners of each competition meeting in a single game on the weekend following the conclusion of the second competition. The winner of that match will claim the Soccer Bowl trophy as the NASL’s 2013 champions.
7. Goal scoring Zimmerman: With 16 goals in 2012, Nick Zimmerman had the second best RailHawks goal scoring season and became second on the club’s all-time goal scoring list with 22 goals. He is only 6 goals behind former teammate Etienne Barbara for top in the RailHawks record book.
6. NASL Expansion: The NASL continues its rapid expansion into the league’s 3rd year. In 2012 the league announced two new expansions franchises in the New York Cosmos and Northern Virginia. Expansion announcements are also expected in early 2013. Ottawa is also scheduled to begin play in 2014.
5.Average attendance on the rise: For the third consecutive season, the RailHawks have seen an increased average attendance at WakeMed Soccer Park. With an average of 4,161 fans per game, the 2012 season ranks second best all-time. Only 3 NASL matches were played in front of a crowd fewer than 3,000 and 3 matches had attendances over 7,000 fans, including #4.
4. September 22nd attendance: For the regular season finale against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, the RailHawks hosted 7,310 fans for the highest attendance ever for a RailHawks regular season match. The 7,310 was the second highest attendance in 2012.
3.Shipalane Fever: Tiyiselani Shipalane took 2012 by storm with his deft dribbling skills and late game heroics. Shipalane came up big once again against the defending MLS Champion LA Galaxy in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with a goal and an assist in the final 16 minutes, leading the RailHawks to a 2-1 victory. Shipalane’s heroics only skyrocketed from there. Scoring 9 goals and tallying 6 assist, all but 2 goals and 2 assist were game winning or game tying. Tiyi led the NASL in playoff goals with 3.
2.WakeMed Soccer Park renovations: Throughout 2012 fans saw the on-going renovations happening at WakeMed Soccer Park. With a $6.1 million renovation, fans will see increased amenities in the 2013 season. The new additions include the North Endzone seating, and a new building on the east side of the stadium featuring new team amenities, new suites, open-air party decks, and second level terrace seating. Part of the renovations included the creation of the Individual Suite Season Ticket that has sold out for the entire 2013 season.
1. 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup: The RailHawks highlighted a U.S. Open Cup run with a 2-1 defeat of the 2011 and 2012 MLS Champion LA Galaxy. The Third Round U.S. Open Cup matchup was played in front of a sold out crowd of 7,939 at WakeMed Soccer Park. The Open Cup run started with a 6-0 result over amateur side, PSA Elite. In the Fourth Round a favorable draw brought Chivas USA to WakeMed Soccer Park boasting a starting lineup of MLS regulars including US phenom Juan Agudelo. When the match looked as though it would be going into overtime, a RailHawks handball in the box led to Juan Pablo Angel converted PK in stoppage time. The U.S. Open Cup run was the start of a 7-game win streak for the RailHawks over all competitions. Brian Shriver received the 2012 U.S. Open Cup Golden Boot with 5 goals scored over the course of the tournament.
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|Tampa Bay Rowdies||6||3||2||1||3||11|
|Minnesota United FC||6||2||2||2||1||8|
|San Antonio Scorpions||6||1||2||3||-4||5|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||6||1||1||4||-6||4|