CARY, N.C. – The Carolina RailHawks bested the visiting Puebla FC 2-1 in an international friendly match played in front of a crowd of 6,155 at WakeMed Soccer Park on Sunday.
Conor Donovan and Tiyi Shipalane pulled the trigger on the RailHawks offense that defeated the two-time Mexican-champion club.
“Great team result tonight,” RailHawks head coach Colin Clarke said.
“It was good for our guys to get a high quality match in between our U.S. Open Cup matches. Puebla showed they are a very good side and it is good to get another victory.”
Donovan opened the scoring with a header off a corner kick from the right side in the 38th minute.
Donovan, an 18-year old defender who has become a regular for the U-20 U.S. Men’s National Team, started the game and appeared in only his second game on the RailHawks game roster – the first coming back in a North American Soccer League (NASL) league match on Nov. 2, 2013.
“He was outstanding tonight,” Clarke said of Donovan’s play.
“Once he got into a rhythm he defended well, made some great one-on-one tackles and got the goal. For a kid of his age to come in against a professional team from Mexico and perform to that level – it was enjoyable to watch. He has a bright future ahead of him.”
In the 66th minute, Shipalane put a shot past Puebla goalkeeper Alfredo Fraustu after finishing the play set up by Nick Zimmerman and gave Carolina the cushion it needed against an opponent that wouldn’t depart passively.
Leading 2-0, the RailHawks couldn’t hold on to the shutout as Puebla consistently pressed towards the Carolina goal during the last five minutes of regulation time.
Francisco Acuna finally found a way and fired a shot past RailHawks keeper Tyler Deric during the 88th minute and pulled Puebla to within a goal.
The marker provided an exciting finish to the match that was extended for two extra minutes and required Carolina to reinforce its back line and effectively maintain keep-away ball possession until the referee’s final whistle blast sounded.
Still undefeated at home since October 2012, the RailHawks will now focus their efforts on their upcoming U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal match which they will host against Major League Soccer’s (MLS) FC Dallas on Wednesday.
CAR: GK Deric, D Bentick (Tobin, 67), D Osaki, D Donovan (Au. King, 67), D Burt (Willis, 77), M Millington (Davidson, 67), M Zimmerman (Martinez, 67), M Cyrino (Elizondo, 67), M Latigue (Albadawi, 67), M Figueroa (Shipalane, 63), F Aa. King (Jackson, 67);
PFC: GK Fraustu, D Juraidini (Acuna, 77), D Barrera, D Orozco, D Esqueda, D de Luna, M Mejia, M Espinoza (Perez, 80), F Villalobos, F de Jesus (Costa, 71), F Lorona;
GOALS: CAR: Donovan (Latigue), 38; Shipalane (Zimmerman) 66; PFC: Acuna, 88;