WILMINGTON,NC (Hammerheads news release) — The Wilmington Hammerheads encountered the Charlotte Eagles for the second time this season at Legion Stadium in what was supposed to be not only the finale of their home-and-home series this weekend, but their final game of the regular season. Both teams attempted to play the rescheduled match from July on Friday at Wingate University only having it cancelled yet again due to inclement weather and unplayable field conditions.
With a spot in USL PRO playoffs up for grabs, both the Hammerheads and the Eagles controlled their ends of the pitch at the start of the game. The Hammerheads needed a win for the possibility of a receiving home field advantage in the first round of the the playoffs. However, the Eagles ended the Hammerheads unbeaten, season winning streak at Legion Stadium with a 1-0 victory and along with their chance of hosting a playoff match next weekend.
Hammerheads forward Cody Arnoux just missed finding the back of the net on a header as both teams remained scoreless leading into halftime. After midfielder Bryce Taylor outplayed Eagles defender Mark Bloom down the side, he moved the play to fellow teammate Charles Rodriguez who then sent a long ball to the far post just skimming Arnoux’s head and into Charlotte goalkeeper Eric Reed’s hands.
The Eagles came soaring out of the locker room following halftime with the first goal of the night in the 47th minute by Devon Grousis, tallying his second goal of the season, teammate Chris Salvaggione with the assist. The Hammerheads responded not long after with back-to-back shots by Mark Briggs and Corey Hertzog, each hoping to set the score even.
Hammerhead corner kicks continually fell into the Eagle’s box, however, the back of the net remained motionless as no one could find a shot that could penetrate the Eagle’s defense. With the only stoppage time remaining on the field, the Eagles faulted leaving Hammerheads Hagop Chirishian to set up a direct kick at the top of the eighteen. Chirishian sent the ball just right of the goal leaving the Hammerheads still shy of a draw.
It was a special night for four of the Wilmington Hammerheads as team owner Bill Rudisill presented them with Player Awards – voted on by the fans. Midfielder Bryce Taylor was named Rookie of the Year; Yahaya Musa with Defensive Player of the Year; Corey Hertzog with Offensive Player of the Year; and goalkeeper Alex Horwath with Most Valuable Player.
The Hammerheads will hit the road once more on Sunday, August 19 to take on the Eagles at Manchester Meadows Park in Rock Hill, SC, just south of Charlotte. With playoffs right around the corner, the decision to reschedule this match had to be made quickly to ensure the outcome will allow time for travel depending on the playoff bracket.
Devon Grousis (Charlotte), 47th minute.
Hammerheads: GK Alexander Horwath, Charles Rodriguez, Gareth Evans, Tyler Lassiter, Yahaya Musa, Bryce Taylor, Paul Nicholson, Mark Briggs, Manny Guzman, Cody Arnoux, Corey Hertzog.
Eagles: GK Eric Reed, Josh Rife, Mark Bloom, Devon Grousis, Cheyne Roberts, Chris Salvaggione, Nate Thornton, Juan Guzman, Darren Toby, Darryl Roberts, Mauricio Salles
Shots Saves Fouls Corners
Hammerheads: 8 3 7 6
Eagles: 10 1 8 6
Referee: Daniel Burak
Assistant Referees: Larry Stroud Jr.
Fourth Official: Michael Huntley
Weather: Warm and Humid
Man of the Match: Gareth Evans