Eleven settles for 1-1 draw with Carolina

Indy Eleven had designs for the top spot in the NASL Spring Season standings, but a late goal with five minutes left in regulation by Carolina RailHawks defender Blake Wagner helped the visitors claim a point from a 1-1 draw at a rainy IUPUI Carroll Stadium.  The sold out home crowd of 10,524 was encouraged by a 6th minute own goal off RailHawks defender Daniel Scott, but were deflated after Wagner’s late heroics cost their Eleven two valuable points in the standings.

Despite the ultimately disappointing result, Indy Eleven managed to remain undefeated on the season (1W-3D-0L) while pushing its undefeated streak dating back to last October to nine games (4W-5D-0L).

The home side was buzzing early, and Indy Eleven’s high energy – and high pressure – paid off just six minutes in with an own goal off the foot of Carolina’s Daniel Scott.  With a perfectly timed through ball over the top, Indy forward Wojciech Wojcik found a streaking Charlie Rugg down the right side.  The LA Galaxy loanee’s cross into the six would be deflected in by Scott, who was sliding towards the Carolina goal as he tried to clear the ball away.

Carolina would be dealt two injury blows in the middle of the first half, as both forward Simone Bracalello and defender Futty Danso were forced from the match in the 26th and 32nd minutes, respectively.  Carolina coach Colin Clarke was forced to go to his already thin bench early, going with newcomer Bradlee Baladez up top and Connor Tobin on the backline.

In the 36th minute the RailHawks would see their best chance of the half when a streaking Mark Anderson hit a low shot right at Indy Eleven goalkeeper Kristian Nicht, who went to ground to keep the bouncing shot in front of him and smother the chance.

As the rains came down in the second half the chances for both sides would dry up, although a shot from Indy midfielder Don Smart just seconds into the half caused trouble, as did Wojcik’s header in the 57th minute.  Carolina had a golden opportunity off an Eleven turnover in their defensive third in the 65th minute, but Anderson couldn’t capitalize, sending an open but wide-angle chance into the side netting.

Indy Eleven had three huge chances to double the lead in the 78th minute when Carolina netminder Hunter Gilstrap wandered away from goal, but Rugg saw a shot towards the open frame blocked off his foot, midfielder Brad Ring’s effort was cleared off the line by Carolina defender Kupono Low and Gilstrap recovered in time to save midfielder Dragan Stojkov’s rebounded effort.

Indy Eleven’s failed chances came back to haunt them in the 85th minute, when Tiyi Shipalane’s cross from the right went to the opposite side of the area where it found a waiting Blake Wagner.  The RailHawks defender gathered calmly and smashed a shot from 12 yards past Nicht and inside the right post to even the match at 1-1, which is how it would end.

Thanks to tonight’s 0-0 draw between the front-running New York Cosmos and the Atlanta Silverbacks, Indy Eleven remains just two points out of the top spot, now in fourth place on six points. Indy sits even with Fort Lauderdale and Atlanta and just one point behind second-place Tampa Bay on an increasing crowded Spring Season table.

Indy Eleven will enjoy its bye week for the Spring Season next weekend before getting back to action with a visit to expansion side Jacksonville Armada FC on Saturday, May 9 (7:30 p.m. kickoff, live on ESPN3.com.

Indy Eleven will return to Carroll Stadium a week later on May 16, when it welcomes last year’s regular season champion, Minnesota United FC, to Carroll Stadium for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff (live on WISH-TV 8, ESPN3.com and Exitos Radio 1590AM).  Fans can purchase their tickets for “Sports of All Sorts Night” versus Minnesota for as little as $10 viawww.IndyEleven.com or by calling 317-685-1100 (Mon-Fri, 9a-5p).