Silverbacks spring season trophy presentation
NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson presents the Atlanta Silverbacks with their trophy for winning the NASL spring season title.
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ATLANTA — The top two teams from the NASL spring season matched up Saturday for the first time since Carolina fell a point short of Atlanta for the title in July. After a goal called back for offsides, a ball off the crossbar and a saved PK, the teams finished knotted 1-1.
The Silverbacks (1-0-1, 4 points) took the early lead in their first game in front of the fans since clinching hosting rights to the Soccer Bowl. Central grad Borfor Carr stole the ball from a Carolina defender about 40 yards out in the 27th minute. He drove forward and passed the ball off to Pedro Mendes, who took advantage of another player drawing the defenders apart and buried a 20-yard shot for the 1-0 lead.
“When I got the ball, I had a clear shot, so I shot it and it went in,” Mendes said. “I’m happy I could bring this to the team. We couldn’t get the win, but 1-1, it’s a tie. We’re undefeated, and we’ve got to keep it the same way.”
The crisp passing and movement among the attackers wasn’t by accident, according to Carr.
“That’s something we worked on this week,” he said. “That’s the reason why (Coach Brian Haynes) put me back there (at right defender), to step up and make those runs. (The RailHawks) aren’t expecting me to come up there from the back, so it gives me a little bit more freedom and I’m able to see things.”
Atlanta’s possession slipped off in the second half, and Carolina (1-0-1, 4 points) took advantage. After a close call from a shot by Brian Ackley, Kupono Low took a ball off the head of Ty Shipalane and finished it for the equalizing goal.
Joe Nasco came up big after drawing a foul in the eighth minute. The Atlanta goalkeeper came off his line and clipped Cesar Elizondo’s foot in the box, giving a penalty kick to Carolina. Brian Shriver, who has the second-most goals in the league with nine, took the PK to his right, and Nasco punched it wide to keep the RailHawks off the board.
“One part guessed right, and the other part I have to give some credit to our owner, Boris (Jerkunica),” Nasco said. “We had a chat the other day and he was talking about how he does his PKs. I kind of took a page out of his book and it worked out.”
Atlanta came out ready for offense and nearly got up very early. Danny Barrera sent in a cross from the left side in the fourth minute, finding Horace James in the box. James headed the ball toward the goal and possibly had it past the goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald. Brad Stisser came in to finish it off from a couple of yards out, but an offside call from the line judge negated the score.
Stisser and Barrera combined on another dangerous chance in the 15th minute. Stisser sent a long cross in from the right side, and Barrera was waiting open in the box past the far post. But his one-time shot went high and wide into the protective net behind the goal.