BAYAMON, Puerto Rico -- The Atlanta Silverbacks closed out their 2012 season with a 1-1 draw against the Puerto Rico Islanders on Saturday night.
Going into Saturday night's contest, the Silverbacks owned the best record in the NASL over the last eight games, with only one loss during that time period. Head coach Brian Haynes fielded a strong side against a young Islanders squad that didn't feature a few of their key players ahead of the playoffs.
The Silverbacks, winners of a pair of games in the last five days, would pick up right where they left off, grabbing a first-half lead in the 30th minute. Midfielder Danny Barrera unleashed a rocket of a shot from over 25 yards, leaving Islanders goalkeeper Cody Laurendi helpless.
Islanders forward Hector Ramos should have evened the score in the 38th minute after a perfect feed from midfielder Tyler Wilson, but the Puerto Rican's shot flew way over the net from just 12 yards out.
Following halftime, Ramos was involved yet again, only this time it led to an Islanders goal. Wilson found Ramos in the penalty area, and the forward launched a shot off the crossbar. Thankfully for the Islanders, midfielder Justin Fojo was there to gather the rebound and blast a shot past Silverbacks goalkeeper Eric Ati, a Grayson grad, to make the score 1-1 in the 54th minute.
After finding the equalizer, the Islanders were in control. Ati was forced into a big save just two minutes after the goal, denying midfielder Osei Telesford from close range. Ramos was next to test Ati, heading a ball toward the corner of the net, but it didn't have enough power on it to trouble the Cameroonian goalkeeper.
The Silverbacks moved the ball well in the second half but failed to lead to any serious scoring opportunities. The second half belonged to the Islanders, and just seconds before the final whistle, the home team nearly took all three points from the Silverbacks. Wilson found himself in space at the top of the penalty area and fired a quick shot toward goal, but it ended up just inches wide of the post.
It was a strong finish to the season for the Silverbacks, who gathered four wins, four ties, and one loss over a nine-game period in August and September.