CARY, NC – The Carolina RailHawks took control of the match early against visiting side PSA Elite, and never looked back. Even though the RailHawks have yet to win a match so far in the NASL season, they came out on fire in the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tournament, beating Elite 6-0 and booking a home date against defending MLS Cup Champion Los Angeles Galaxy in the process.
The early pressure by the Carolina squad yielded a goal in only the seventh minute of the match, as Austin Da Luz sprung Zach Schilawski into the PSA Elite box. A simple centering pass to Brian Shriver for a tap in gave the RailHawks the lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
Before Elite could even get back in the match, a RailHawks corner kick fell at the feet of midfielder Amir Lowery near the six-yard box, and he calmly buried the shot to take a 2-0 lead in the ninth minute. Only down 2-nil, PSA Elite weathered the early assault and actually put Carolina on their heels with a bit of possession and drew some fouls against Carolina to help in the comeback bid.
Three shots by Elite players were saved or blocked over the next ten minutes of the match, but another beautiful pass by Da Luz sent Shriver in on the PSA Elite goal all alone, and he slotted his second of the match past the goalkeeper without any problems to give Carolina a 3-0 led in only the 25th minute of the match.
The RailHawks continued to dominate possession and not give PSA Elite any chances to claw their way back into the game, spraying shots all over the Elite goal in a continuous attack. It was only a matter of time before one of the many shots found its way to the back of the net. Schilawski notched his second assist of the match, again finding Shriver for his third goal in the 40th minute. In doing so, Shriver became only the 25th player to score a hat trick in the U.S. Open Cup in the Modern Pro Era.
The RailHawks smelt the blood in the water and looked to finish off the PSA Elite squad before halftime. Schilawski got in on the act with Carolina’s fifth goal in the first half in the 41st minute, and the RailHawks went into the halftime break with an extremely comfortable lead.
With the large lead, RailHawks made the first substitution of the night at halftime, in what was clearly a tactical move to make sure the lead was secure. Exiting the match was midfielder Da Luz; he was replaced by former Glasgow Rangers man Greg Shields, a defender. The accompanying formation change helped to keep PSA Elite from many chances in the opening minutes of the second half.
Credit to PSA Elite, they didn’t give up on the match even though down so many goals. The Elite coaching staff made two changes over a five minute span in an effort to try to figure out the RailHawks defense. But, the RailHawks still had command of the game.
Schilawski was replaced for fresh legs in a straight swap at forward as former MLS player Jason Garey entered the match for Carolina in the 65th minute. Only a valiant effort – including numerous saves – by Elite goalkeeper Trevor Whiddon kept the RailHawks off the board for the majority of the second half.
But unfortunately, the RailHawks had one more goal in them before time expired. Late sub Garey put a shot on frame in the 90th minute, which was saved by Whiddon. However, Shriver was right there to clean up the rebound and tucked his fourth goal of the match into the open net just before time expired.
The result will undoubtedly give the RailHawks a lot of confidence as they await their third round match against the struggling Galaxy next Tuesday night.
PSA Elite 0:6 Carolina RailHawks
WakeMed Park – Cary, NC
CAR: Shriver (Schilawski) 7
CAR: Lowery 9
CAR: Shriver (Da Luz) 23
CAR: Shriver (Schilawski) 40
CAR: Schilawski (Ortiz) 41
CAR: Shriver 90
CAR: GK Fitzgerald, D Elenio, D Agbossoumonde, D King, D Low (c), M Zimmerman, M Lowery, M Ortiz (Palacio, 82), M Da Luz (Shields, 46), F Schilawski (Garey, 65), F Shriver
PSA: GK Whiddon, D Dunn, D Miranda, D Smith (Turner, 53), D Gafa, M Lopez, M Spicer, M Paul, M Whitfield (Ontiveros, 61), F Riemer, F Ramirez (Lopez, 69)
PSA: Miranda, 73;