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Silverbacks hang on down a man for 1-0 win

Grayson grad Eric Ati earned a clean sheet in the Silverbacks’ 1-0 win against FC Edmonton on Saturday at Atlanta Silverbacks Park. (Special Photo: Ellen McRaney)

Grayson grad Eric Ati earned a clean sheet in the Silverbacks’ 1-0 win against FC Edmonton on Saturday at Atlanta Silverbacks Park. (Special Photo: Ellen McRaney)

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The Collins Hill choir sang the Canadian and United States national anthems before the game Saturday at Atlanta Silverbacks Park. (Special Photo: Ron Holt)

ATLANTA — Pedro Mendes scored the night’s only goal on a penalty kick, and the Silverbacks’ defense made it stand playing down a man in a 1-0 win over FC Edmonton on Saturday.

“When you have a team talk, and the team talk is about ‘let’s get back to where we were last year’ and the guys come in and give a performance like that, it’s exactly what I wanted,” Atlanta coach Brian Haynes said. “It would’ve been nice to do it with all 11 players. But to do it with 10 and not give up a goal — and not give up a shot in the second half. I’m so proud of the guys.”

Both teams got a couple of good early looks, but the Silverbacks (3-2-4, 13 points) got the needed break on the penalty call. Mendes was taken down on the right side in the box, and he buried a shot to the left of Edmonton goalkeeper Lance Parker for the 1-0 lead in the 14th minute. It was Mendes’ sixth goal of the year and third of the fall season.

“It was important (to get the goal),” Mendes said. “I think our team did a great job, and everybody worked really hard. We knew we had to work extra hard because we were a man down, but we pulled it off.”

Chris Nurse was in position for Edmonton’s (1-3-5, 8 points) best chance of the game. Midfielder Neil Hlavaty sent in a ball from a free kick, and Nurse was wide open for a header at the penalty spot. But Nurse couldn’t get it on frame and the Eddies still trailed by a goal.

The red card came in the 37th minute in a play near midfield. An Edmonton defender came in with a sliding tackle while Danny Barrera was dribbling the ball. Barrera lept into the air and knicked the player with his cleats, and referee Sorin Stoica almost immediately blew the whistle and sent Barrera off with a straight red.

But the Atlanta defense made the score stand in the second half.

Mendes helped create a couple of chances to relieve some pressure from his outmanned team, and the Silverbacks kept the Eddies from getting a shot on goal in the final 45 minutes.

“It’s frustrating,” Edmonton coach Colin Miller said. “Just because you go up a man doesn’t mean you’ve got a divine right to score. Atlanta are a very good team. Take nothing away from them.

“We’ve come here with 10 men for an hour, and they couldn’t score on us. We finished the stronger team earlier on in the season. So we know how difficult it is.”

Grayson grad Eric Ati earned the clean sheet in goal for Atlanta. Ati made a couple of nice plays, but it was mostly the guys in front who kept Edmonton from putting him in dangerous situations.

“It was nice, especially with 10 men, to keep a clean sheet,” Ati said. “The guys did the hard part. I was just there.”