CHICAGO (Oct. 30, 2010) – The Puerto Rico Islanders claimed the 2010 USSF D-2 Pro League Championship 3-1 on aggregate this evening after a 1-1 draw with the Carolina RailHawks at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C., in the second leg of their two-game series.
The Islanders came into the match holding a 2-0 advantage after scoring twice in the first leg on Oct. 24 at Estadio Juan Ramon Loubriel in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. No team had come back from a two-goal deficit in the 2010 playoffs, and the RailHawks were unable to reverse that trend on home soil as first half goals for each team would be the only scoring on the night.
The match opened with a quick, physical pace as both sides were determined to stamp their presence on the decisive second leg. It would only take seven minutes for the first breakthrough to come from the foot of Sandy Gbandi, who also scored Puerto Rico’s first goal in Bayamon. After striker Kendall Jagdeosingh did well to keep a cross from the left alive in the box, Gbandi collected and cut inside a sliding defender to provide just enough space to slot his shot past Carolina goalkeeper Eric Reed.
The quick goal deflated the home crowd, knowing that their side was down 3-0 on aggregate and only a heroic effort could bring the RailHawks back.
The RailHawks, however, did not disappoint and equalized when Tom Heinemann scored in the 11th minute. The big forward got on the end of a Floyd Franks cross from the right side to nod past Bill Gaudette in net for Puerto Rico. The goal breathed life back into Carolina, allowing them to focus on their original task – coming back from a two-goal disadvantage of home turf.
Carolina would come close again just moments later when a Heinemann cross was almost sliced into the Puerto Rico net by a recovering defender. The rest of the first half failed to produce another scoring chance as the match sputtered in midfield. Maltese international Etienne Barbara was a constant menace in attack for Carolina, but Puerto Rico was determined not to let another defensive miscue let their opponents back into the match, keeping numbers behind the ball.
The second half opened much as the first half closed. Barbara and Heinemann continued to pressure the Puerto Rico defense but could not break them down in final third.
By the 75th minute, Puerto Rico was content to absorb the Carolina attack and sit in defense with a two-goal advantage. The frantic opening pace of the game was taking a toll on the players in the final 15 minutes as Carolina head coach Martin Rennie tried to inject pace into the game through his substitutions.
Puerto Rico had a chance to seal the encounter in the 88th minute when forward Nick Addlery was brought down in the box by Carolina defender Brad Rusin, who was shown a red card after the referee pointed to the spot. Addlery stepped up to take the kick himself but was denied by Reed and the left post as the ‘keeper got his fingertips to the ball to deflect it off the woodwork.
Match: Carolina RailHawks vs. Puerto Rico Islanders
Date: October 30, 2010
Competition: USSF D-2 Pro League Championship Series – 2nd Leg
Venue: WakeMed Soccer Park – Cary, N.C.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Weather: Clear, 65 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
CAR 1 0 0
PUE 1 0 0
CAR: Eric Reed, Kupono Low (Allan Russell, 82), Brad Rusin, Daniel Woolard, Cory Elenio (Tiyi Shipalane 72), Marques Davidson, Floyd Franks (Gregory Richardson, 61), Matt Watson, Daniel Paladini, Etienne Barbara (Josh Gardner, 72), Tom Heinemann
Head Coach: Martin Rennie
PUE: Bill Gaudette, Richard Martinez, Marco Velez, Alexis Rivera, David Horst, Noah Delgado, Chris Nurse, Sandy Gbandi, David Foley (Nick Addlery, 81), Kendall Jagdeosingh (Osei Telesford, 72), Josh Hansen
Head Coach: Colin Clark
Stats Summary: CAR / PUE
Shots: 18 / 10
Shots on Goal: 9 / 6
Saves: 5 / 8
Corner Kicks: 4 / 3
Fouls: 10 / 16
PUE – Josh Hansen (caution) 47th minute
CAR – Kupono Low (caution) 55
PUE – Kendall Jagdeosingh (caution) 70
CAR – Brad Rusin (ejection) 88
CAR – Tom Heinemann (caution) 90
PUE – Chris Nurse (caution) 90
Referee Fotis Bazakos (USA)
AR1: Jeff Mushick (USA)
AR2: James Conlee (USA)
4th: Mark Cadlecik (USA)