The Carolina RailHawks kicked off their 2015 North American Soccer League (NASL) Spring Season with a 3-1 win over Canadian side Ottawa Fury FC at WakeMed Soccer Park.
“I’m delighted,” RailHawks head coach Colin Clarke said. “It was the opening game of the season and our forwards scored. I’m disappointed we didn’t keep a clean sheet, but overall, a lot of positives. It was a great and exciting game for the fans to watch. This is a great crowd and we like to reward them.”
Ottawa missed the likes of Oliver, Nicki Paterson, and Mauro Eustaquio due to suspension and midfielder Phil Davies to injury. However, both teams came out of the gates with high energy and were eager to be the first team on the board for the 2015 season.
In the first half, the RailHawks attacking play was led by Tiyiselani Shipalane’s inspired performance. His fancy footwork on the right side opened up the field for multiple early chances, and it finally paid off in the 12th minute. Shipalane gained possession off of a deflected ball inside the box and fired a well-placed crossing shot to score the RailHawks’ first goal of the 2015 season.
Midway through the half, a rare sequence of back-to-back penalty kicks occurred after both teams were consecutively called for fouls in their respective boxes. RailHawks goalkeeper Hunter Gilstrap, on his NASL debut, made a diving save on Carl Haworth's penatly take for Ottawa that kept the score at 1-0 and brought the WakeMed Soccer Park crowd to their feet in the 28th minute. Carolina rode the momentum and two minutes later, scored their second goal when Nacho Novo rifled his penalty kick into the bottom right corner of the net.
Carolina kept the pressure on in the second half but left the door open for Ottawa when they failed to convert on a number of good looks. Fury FC made it interesting late when Brandon Poltronieri scored off of a chipped pass in the 84th minute moments after coming on as a sub.
However, Carolina's two-goal advantage would be restored before the final whistle. Simone Bracalello, in second half stoppage time, slotted the ball between Fury FC goalkeeper Romuald Peiser's legs for his first tally as a member of the RailHawks.
"We had some anxiety at the start of the game and the didn't help us," Fury FC head coach Marc Dos Santos said. "Carolina made us pay for our mistakes, but in the second half we showed great attitude and commitment."
Carolina will travel to Canada for the second game of the Spring Season on Sunday, April 12, to face off with Edmonton FC. Ottawa will be on the road for a second weekend in a row when they visit the Atlanta Silverbacks on April 11.