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RailHawks edge Minnesota 1-0

Carolina RailHawks News Release -

Sunday, April 26, 2009

CARY, NC -- For the third week in a row, the Carolina RailHawks made club history. With a 1-0 win over Minnesota on Sunday at WakeMed Soccer Park, the RailHawks (3-0-0) have their first three-match winning streak.

Plotkin provided the Carolina winner“Right before we played [Minnesota] the first time in the opener, coach said we had a good opportunity to stamp our foot and let the league know the RailHawks aren’t what they’ve been the last couple years. We can come out and achieve nine points in our first three games,” said midfielder Brian Plotkin, who scored the game’s only goal in the 58th minute Sunday. “We all believed in the goal and here we are now three games later.”

The RailHawks wrapped up a perfect three-match homestand with Sunday’s win and are off to their best start in the team’s three-year history. With nine points, Carolina remains in first place in the USL-1 table, though Miami could climb into a tie with the RailHawks with a win later Sunday against Rochester.

Plotkin supplied the game’s only goal just shy of the one-hour mark.

In the 58th minute, Josh Gardner played Plotkin into the box. The ball took a deflection off a Minnesota defender and went straight to Plotkin. He took a couple touches then toe-poked the ball past Minnesota goalkeeper Nic Platter.

“At halftime, coach talked about really committing yourself to the runs in the box. I just kind of took off. Josh spotted me and as I was turning, their guy cleared it off [a teammate], and I was still standing there,” said Plotkin, the fourth different RailHawk to score this season. “It was kind of lucky, but a goal’s a goal.”

The match was largely devoid of scoring chances, though Carolina did have a few others.

In the 39th minute, Plotkin lashed one from 35 yards only to see it crash off the crossbar.

Amir Lowery nearly knocked one in in the 53rd minute. Luke Kreamalmeyer’s corner kick found Lowery on the back post, but Lowery’s header from inside the six went just wide of the frame.

The RailHawks held a slight edge in shots (6-5), and they were caught offside nine times, more than in their first two matches combined.

The heat, which topped 90 degrees, and the midday kickoff were contributing factors to the game’s plodding pace.

“The fact that it was two o’clock in the afternoon and it’s hot definitely hurts,” said RailHawks coach Martin Rennie. “Every time you lose a ball, it’s twice as hard to win it back. The game slows down, and then it’s hard to score goals because the tempo of the game is slow. In the end, we cleared them up, so that was really good.”

Eric Reed tended the goal for the RailHawks, and he made three saves on his way to recording Carolina’s second straight shutout. Carolina has conceded just one goal this season; none in the last 243 minutes.

The defense in front of Reed was cobbled together, but it demonstrated the depth Rennie has assembled with this squad. Caleb Norkus started at right back, in place of the suspended Devon McKenney, and Paul Ritchie made his season debut as a second-half substitute for the injured Jack Stewart. But the group didn’t allow Minnesota (0-2-2) a decent look at goal all afternoon.

The RailHawks will hit the road for the first time this season later this week. They will play the Timbers in Portland on Thursday and Saturday before returning to WakeMed Soccer Park to face the Charleston Battery on May 9.

“It’s important to win all home games in this league, but especially to start the season out on a high note,” Reed said. “Starting off 3-0 puts us in a great spot. It helps our confidence. We’re really loving how we’re playing right now and we’re excited about what’s to come.”

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