ATLANTA -- Thanks in part to a free ticket giveaway, Atlanta Silverbacks Park was over capacity Saturday with more than 6,000 fans in attendance. But the increased cheering wasn't enough to propel the team to a win.
Zach Schlawski and Brian Ackley scored late goals in the first and second half, respectively, and led the RailHawks to a 2-0 victory over Atlanta.
Despite what the final score may have indicated, Atlanta (1-5-6, 8 points) was not outplayed on the field. Carolina (3-5-4, 14 points) had a slight 16-14 shot advantage, but Atlanta doubled up Carolina on corner kicks 8-4. A couple of late headers off corners were saved by RailHawks goalkeeper Ray Burse, keeping his clean sheet when it counted.
Central grad Borfor "Buff" Carr had the best chance of the night for Atlanta in the 78th minute. The speedy forward received a pass on a breakaway just past the defense. Carr lined up a clean shot inside the box on the right side, but his right-footed, low shot was deflected wide by Burse.
"We had the opportunities," Carr said. "Shots were on target. Headers were on target. On my shot, the keeper made a big-time save. It's just the game. (The RailHawks) needed the keeper to come up big time, and he made a save when it was important for them."
Both teams seemed to be headed into the locker room scoreless, but Schlawski's goal in the 44th minute changed the game. Minutes after Matt Horth put a shot just over the crossbar for Atlanta, Austin Daluz sent a low cross in from the right side, and Schlawski hit a one-time shot for the score.
Ty Shipilane put in the game-sealing goal in the 86th minute. The midfielder sent in a hard cross from the right side, and Ackley put the ball past Daniel Illyes for a 2-0 advantage.
In the 58th minute, Carr had another chance to get on the board for Atlanta. But his shot went just wide right and into the side netting. Shipilane almost put his team up 2-0 six minutes later, but he was called offside on a breakaway by the linesman.
Illyes came up big in goal for Atlanta twice in the second half. In the 72nd minute, Illyes ran off his line and grabbed the ball off the feet of a Carolina attacker with nobody left behind him defending the net. Shipilane had similar opportunity for Carolina 10 minutes later, but Illyes again stopped a shot on a break.
"I was watching Carolina's previous games against Minnesota and Puerto Rico," Illyes said. "I realized they were very dangerous from the sides after crosses. We made a couple of big mistakes from the defending aspect, and that was the punishment."
Tony McManus was honored before the game for setting a new team record for games played at 121. McManus was proud of his accomplishment, but wished it could've come with a win.
"I would say the accomplishment is staying healthy for 121 games to stay on the field," he said. "It's an awesome feeling to get that. But at the end of the day if you don't get the win, it really kind of takes it all away from you."