Rowdies Pick Up Huge Road Win, Beating Carolina 4-3
CARY, N.C. — The Tampa Bay Rowdies won a thriller at WakeMed Soccer Park on Saturday night, defeating the Carolina RailHawks 4-3 in dramatic fashion. Twice the Rowdies took a two-goal lead only for Carolina to make things interesting again.
“It was a tremendous effort from everybody, all 18 players that traveled,” Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. “I’m absolutely delighted for the guys. Carolina is a very difficult place to play.”
Rowdies forward Amani Walker got the party started early, controlling an inch-perfect through ball from Shane Hill and sliding it past RailHawks goalkeeper Scott Goodwin and just inside the far post to give the Rowdies the opening goal in the 3rd minute.
The Rowdies, not satisfied with the early lead, continued to pile on the pressure and were rewarded in the 10th minute.
Midfielder Keith Savage, celebrating his 29th birthday, delivered a free kick from the left flank into the six-yard box, where Tamika Mkandawire slammed it into the net with a powerful header to put the Rowdies up 2-0.
“It’s an unusual feat for us (having an early lead),” Ricky Hill said. “In the last eight games, we’ve been behind, so I was as surprised as anyone. Credit to the guys for the way they started the game. Today we got the reward with two quick goals.”
Still not satisfied, the Rowdies continued their hard work, with Walker, Brian Shriver and Georgi Hristov all receiving the ball in dangerous areas as the half progressed.
Carolina had back-to-back free kicks near Tampa Bay’s goal in the 35th and 38th minutes, but on both occasions, goalkeeper Matt Pickens made a diving save to deny Kupono Low’s shot.
The RailHawks started the second half the same way the Rowdies started the first.
Enzo Martinez supplied Zach Schilawski with a great entry ball into the box, which Schilawski tapped over Pickens and into the net to make the score 2-1 in the 48th minute.
Just three minutes later, Schilawski returned the favor, feeding Martinez for the equalizing goal in the 51st minute.
The match remained even at 2-2 until late in the second half when Ricky Hill made impactful substitutions. Lucky Mkosana entered the match in the 71st minute with Ricardo Morris joining him on the field in the 72nd.
In the 77th minute, Morris slid a low cross from the left flank into the six-yard box, where a sliding Mkosana redirected it into the net for a 3-2 lead.
Tampa Bay appeared to have sealed the win with an 84th minute goal when a saved shot bounced his way near the penalty spot and he rocketed it past Goodwin for a 4-2 lead, but the scoring wasn’t quite finished for the night.
Carolina’s Danny Berrera took a shot in the 86th minute that deflected off Rowdies defender JP Rodrigues and trickled over the line to make the score 4-3.
Immediately after that, Carolina defender Daniel Scott was shown a second yellow card and dismissed from the match and Tampa Bay was able to close out the match and earn all three points.
“To give away two goals right after halftime, a lot of times we team would be despondent and have our heads down,” Ricky Hill said. “We regrouped and got ourselves back together.”
Rowdies captain Frankie Sanfilippo made his 100th appearance for the club in the win.
Next, Tampa Bay returns home for back-to-back home matches against the New York Cosmos on Aug. 16 and Carolina RailHawks on Aug. 23 at Al Lang Stadium. The first 1,000 fans to enter the stadium before the Cosmos match will receive Rowdies sunglasses. For tickets, click here.
Tampa Bay: Amani Walker - 3rd minute (assisted by Shane Hill)
Tampa Bay: Tamika Mkandawire - 10th minute (assisted by Keith Savage)
Carolina: Zack Schilawski - 48th minute (assisted by Enzo Martinez)
Carolina: Enzo Martinez - 51st minute (assisted by Zack Schilawski)
Tampa Bay: Lucky Mkosana - 77th minute (assisted by Ricardo Morris)
Tampa Bay: Darel Russell - 84th minute
Carolina: Own Goal - 86th minute
Tampa Bay: Anthony Wallace - 25th minute
Tampa Bay: Georgi Hristov - 37th minute
Carolina: Daniel Scott - 53rd minute
Carolina: Daniel Scott - 87th minute (yellow to red card)
Tampa Bay: Darel Russell - 87th minute
Rowdies XI (4-4-2): GK Matt Pickens; D Frankie Sanfilippo* (Captain), JP Rodrigues, Tamika Mkandawire, Anthony Wallace; M Brian Shriver (Blake Wagner 80'), Darel Russell, Shane Hill, Keith Savage (Ricardo Morris 72'); F Amani Walker (Lucky Mkosana 71'), Georgi Hristov
RailHawks Starting XI (4-2-3-1): GK Scott Goodwin, D Kupono Low, Daniel Scott, Connor Tobin, Jordan Graye; M Jun Marques Davidson (Captain), Enzo Martinez (Nick Zimmerman 83'), Nazmi Albadawi, Ty Shipalane (Daniel Jackson 70'), Zach Schilawski; F Aaron King (Danny Berrera 74')