Utter Dominance. That is the only way to describe what the Carolina Railhawks accomplished last night in their 3-0 win over the Puerto Rico Islanders. With the win Carolina improved an unbeaten streak to seven straight matches and asserted a strong hold over the league table.
The hero on the night was Etienne Barbara who continued his scoring tear with goals in the 26th and 53rd minutes. He furthered his offensive value by assisting Pablo Compos in the 67th minute. Barbara now has 11 goals this season and has amassed an impressive offensive points tally: 25 points in only eight games. Impressive.
Coach Martin Rennie seemed very pleased with Barbara’s performance and not only with the goal scoring. “This season he’s really working for the team and he’s setting an example. And that means that the whole team has to work because if the guy who is scoring goals is working, that means everybody else follows him. I’m really pleased about that, he’s doing his job on both sides of the ball.”
While Barbara and Compos earn their share of the credit, Brad Rusin’s defense certainly merits mention. Rusin and Carolina goalkeeper Brad Knighton have been sharp and commanding all season. On this night though, things seemed to come together as they earned a shutout and limited Puerto Rico to only half chances and weak attempts at goal.
“The shutout was huge tonight,” said Rusin as he reflected on the defense. “Everyone did their job tonight. It’s not just the defenders defending it’s everyone. It starts from the front and obviously the forwards are scoring goals and that makes it easy on us.”
The game probably could have been 5 or 6 nil if not for a few unnecessary touches by Pablo Compos in front of goal. Compos is a great, dynamic attacker, but he’ll have to pull the trigger sooner in big games otherwise the Railhawks might suffer from his indecision.
This win came in front of an impressive crowd of 3,498. It’s nice to see the Railhawks finally getting the local support they deserve. That crowd was certainly treated to some excellent soccer as Carolina continues to improve their game as well as win. You brought an energy to the stadium and the team was forced to match it, well done.
Martin Rennie had this to say: “To get the crowd here that we got here tonight was fantastic…they made it seem like a playoff game tonight. Really had an electric atmosphere to it.” Well done Cary, NC. Rennie continued, “We knew it was a big game. A lot of people were questioning us after the first game we lost this season. Puerto Rico are a very strong team and are always going to be one of our biggest rivals. We had to work really hard for it. We took our chances… I was really pleased with that.”
The Railhawks have posted four straight wins and are now in sole possession of the NASL league table. They’ll be defending that top spot against bottom feeders Atlanta next Saturday night at WakeMed Soccer Park. Here’s hoping the same crowd makes it out there, this is a team that deserves it.