Friday, April 20, 2012
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Harrisburg City Islanders opened their USL PRO season with 2-1 win against the Charlotte Eagles at Charlotte Christian Stadium on Friday night. Andrew Welker opened the scoring for the City Islanders midway through the first half, while J.T. Noone scored what proved to be the game-winner early in the second half. Mauricio Salles scored the first goal of the season for the Eagles, but they were unable to find an equalizer and remain in search of their first win of the season.
Brian Ombiji almost gave the City Islanders the lead in just the second minute, curling a shot just wide following a corner. As the game went on, though, the Eagles began to find their rhythm and were able to control more possession. Jorge Herrera tested City Islanders goalkeeper Nick Noble in the 19th minute, forcing a good save to keep the game scoreless.
Four minutes later, Welker would open the scoring. The midfielder, who had eight goals for Harrisburg last season, got on the end of Jason Pelletier’s corner kick, heading home to give the City Islanders a 1-0 lead. Harrisburg continued to press for a second goal, but the Eagles were able to hit back 10 minutes before the break as Salles blasted home a free kick from just outside the penalty area.
Herrera had a chance to give the Eagles the lead just before halftime, again from a free kick, but Noble was able to get across in time to make the save, sending the teams to the locker rooms even.
The deadlock would be broken four minutes into the second half as the City Islanders were awarded a penalty kick. Noone stepped up and finished, restoring his side’s lead. With both teams looking to play attacking soccer, Charlotte came close to tying the game 10 minutes later through Herrera, but Noble was again on hand to make the save.
Harrisburg then tried to slow the pace and restrict Charlotte’s chances, and was able to possess the ball well. The Eagles found it difficult to create a clear opportunity for an equalizer, and as they pushed players forward they almost gave up a third goal. The City Islanders had the chance to put the game away on the counter-attack with two minutes to go, breaking for a four-on-two, but Eagles goalkeeper Eric Reed was able to save.
The Eagles hit the road for the first time this season in their next outing, heading to face Antigua Barracuda for a pair of games next Thursday and Saturday at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua. The City Islanders will try for a second victory on their trip to North Carolina on Saturday as they head to Wilmington to face the Hammerheads at Legion Stadium at 7:30 p.m. in a game that can be seen via USL Live on UNation.