Indy Eleven’s Inaugural Game in the North American Soccer League Match did not disappoint the sellout crowd of 11,048 IUPUI's Michael A. Carrol Stadium, but the squad was forced to settle for a share of the spoils via a 1-1 draw with the Carolina RailHawks in both team's NASL Spring Season debut.
On a perfect spring evening in the Circle City, the first 45 minutes saw the home and away teams trading marginal attacking opportunities while feeling each other out in the midfield. Both teams did create some danger, however, starting in the 24th minute when Indy Eleven goalkeeper Kristian Nicht came up with a massive save on Carolina attacker Tiyiselani Shipalane, who found himself one-on-one with the German net minder.
Indy Eleven found its legs - and more possession - as the half went along, and was rewarded in the 43rd minute when Mike Ambersley tallied the first official goal in club history. After a penetrating run by Eleven midfielder Corby Moore was snuffed out, midfielder A.J. Corrado played the loose ball into the 18-yard box where a waiting Ambersley took a touch by the RailHawk defender and slotted a low shot into the far post. The goal capped off a week to remember for the St. Louis native and Indiana University alum, who celebrated the brith of his first child just days ago.
Carolina looked to quickly counter the 1-0 lead and immediately played a long ball into the box where RailHawk forward Zack Schilawski linked onto the pass. Eager to preserve the one goal advantage, Indy Eleven defender Brad Ring made the tackle of the half, sliding in and stymying Schilawski inside the six-yard box to keep the score 1-0 heading into the break.
Carolina RailHawks Assistant Coach Greg Shields was dismissed from the game at the halftime intermission.
Carolina came out of the locker room looking to quickly jump on the home team, and it didn't take long for the RailHawks to find the equalizer. Just five minutes into the second half a good spell of possession by the RailHawks led to a Shipalane cross that Schilawski headed home powerfully from eight yards out to put Carolina equal.
Showing a positive response to the goal, Indy Eleven midfielder Kleberson looked to lead the squad charging forward into the match. A caution for Carolina’s Daniel Scott in the 62nd minute set up the Brazilian midfielder for a shot on goal from 30 yards out, which was saved by Akira Fitzgerald. Two minutes later Kleberson again looked to goal, but his shot from distance whistled just wide of the post.
Indy Eleven made three substitutions in the second half, bringing on Pedro Mendes, Don Smart and Dylan Mares. As the second half of play ticked away, Indy felt the pressure to push the ball forward and found a few late chances that brought the capacity crowd to its feet. Despite dominating the last ten minutes, the home side was forced to split the points before celebrating the effort of the sold out crowd.
Indy Eleven Head Coach Juergen Sommer
On the sold out crowd of 11,048 and their support:
“The Brickyard Battalion was phenomenal tonight. The atmosphere was electric and every fan was like a 12th man for us tonight.”
On the 1-1 result against the RailHawks and managing expectations early:
“You always want to win your home opener, obviously. Again, we’re building a brand new franchise and I think we’re going to need four or five games to get a real sense of match fitness going.”
On what to take away from the match:
“I was really pleased with the character and fight of our team. Even late in the second half we were pushing forward and creating chances. Finding that game-winner will come with experience and getting matches under our belt.”
Carolina RailHawks Head Coach Colin Clarke
On falling behind in the first half:
“There were some positives for us, but I thought we were poor in the first half and we didn’t prepare for what we knew was coming. We got in behind a few times and didn’t take advantage of our opportunities.”
On gaining a result in a tough atmosphere:
“It’s a point on the road. I’m disappointed we didn’t get three because I thought we could have. This will be a tough place for teams to come in and play. Probably overall a fair result.”
NASL Recap – Matchday 1
Indy Eleven 1 : 1 Carolina RailHawks
Michael A. Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, IN
Friday, April 12, 2014
IND – Mike Ambersely (A.J. Corrado) 43’
CAR – Zack Schilawski (Tiyiselani Shipalane) 50’
CAR – Jordan Burt (caution) 6’
CAR- Daniel Scott (caution) 62’
Indy Eleven Line-up (4-5-1): Kristian Nicht; Chris Estridge, Jaime Frias, Erick Norales, Kyle Hyland; Brad Ring, A.J. Corrado (Don Smart, 74’), Kleberson, Walter Ramirez, Corby Moore (Dylan Mares, 84’); Mike Ambersley (Pedro Mendes, 67’).
Carolina RailHawks (4-4-2): Akira Fitzgerald; Jordan Burt, Daniel Scott, Connor Tobin, Kupono Low; Jun Marques Davidson, Nicholas Stephen Millington (Nazmi Albadawi 80’), Enzo Agustin Martinez, Cesar Gerardo Elizondo; Zack Schilawski (Aaron King 87’), Tiyiselani Shipalane.