Bad day at the infirmary for both N.C. State and UNC, although the news is much worse for the ’Heels.
First, Wolfpack QB Russell Wilson, who has already missed a game due to a Grade 3 concussion, will miss this Saturday's matchup against South Florida, as will linebacker and leading tackler Nate Irving. Both players are out indefinitely, and coach Tom O'Brien won't comment specifically on Wilson's injury.
Second, UNC QB TJ Yates, who left Saturday's game against Virginia Tech with an ankle injury, will miss at least six weeks.
The situation is more fraught for the ’Heels, given the ineffective performance of Mike Paulus in relief of Yates. The ’Pack, on the other hand, will turn to Harrison Beck, a proven backup who was a steady field general in Wilson's place against William & Mary a couple of weeks back.
The N&O has video of Yates discussing his injury.
Duke football is idle this week, leaving your friendly correspondent ample time to scour the Internets for a reason to question his previous assertions about the state of Duke football.
Enter the North Carolina Business Litigation Report (NCBLR).
You may have heard recently that the legal wrangling between Duke and the University of Louisville has come to a close. Louisville filed suit in 2007 after Duke opted out of playing the final three games of a series that was scheduled to run through 2009. Earlier this summer, Judge Phillip J. Shepherd of the Franklin County Circuit Court ruled that the Cardinals were entitled to bubkiss.
How, you ask, were Duke's lawyers able to convince a Kentucky judge to rule in their favor?
By stating the obvious, silly.
It was a tough year for the Carolina RailHawks, but they still went into Saturday night's matchup against the Portland Timbers with a slim hope of making the playoffs. Although the ’Hawks prevailed, 1-0, on a heart-stopping finish, the result from the near-simultaneous Montreal-Minnesota match ended their season.
Still, fans and players go to their winter's rest with the memory of a thrilling finale to the season's final game, in which Martin Nuñez--named before the game as the team's co-offensive player of the year--came up big in the last, desperate minute of stoppage time.
A crucial uncredited assist was provided by Mauricio Segovia, who battled the goalkeeper for the ball on the decisive play. Segovia, a huge defender, had been inserted only moments before as a sort of "Hail Mary substitution" to use his size against the Portland keeper. It worked.
UPDATE on Sept. 22: Upon repeated careful viewings of this video, it appears that it is remotely possible that PERHAPS one, two or possibly three ’Hawks may have been offside. If you disagree, please explain in the comments.
Saturday afternoon in Raleigh, large colonies of purple broke the sea of red and black that formed the bulk of Carter-Finley Stadium’s sell-out crowd of nearly 60,000. No section or ceremony seemed sacred, either: Mutual tailgates were cloaked by those in bright red and bright purple. Shocks of purple appeared among the student seats. The elevators leading to the luxury boxes of Vaughn Towers hosted good-hearted (and often well-lubed) arguments between fans of both persuasions.
Driven by an intense, raucous, history, N.C. State’s 26-game rivalry with East Carolina remains one of the strongest and most peculiar in this state. The mixing between the universities seems unique among the larger schools in the state. Though ECU is a decent interstate jaunt from the Triangle, its rivalry with N.C. State seems fueled more by a propinquity of spirit. Though each school has several fine academic programs in its own right, neither school is among the nation’s perennial academic elite, unlike their western neighbors in blue. It’s a less catty fight than State’s battles with UNC-Chapel Hill, and it’s less self-deprecating than State’s more recent ventures versus Duke. I recognized this when my older brother played football at ECU before he attended State and again when I went to State myself: The students of the school’s are slightly kindred spirits, and that drives intercollegiate romances (co-ed Pirates and Wolves walked arm in arm today) just as much as it does athletic hatred. They love to torment each other.
Saturday’s 30-24 N.C. State victory against ECU in either team’s first overtime game of the year worked to bolster that rivalry: East Carolina, of course, came in as the heavyweights, ranked No. 15 in the nation and sporting a 3-0 record that included wins against Virginia Tech and West Virginia. N.C. State’s 1-2 record included a 34-0 season opening ass-handing courtesy of University of South Carolina and a decisive 9-27 loss in Clemson’s Death Valley. Shoulda been easy.
A light but compact crowd gathered at Bull McCabe's in Durham on Friday night to watch the USL-1 Carolina RailHawks take on the Charleston Battery. It came as a surprise to some at the bar that such significant emotion could be generated for somthing that they did not heretofore know existed.
Yet, there it was, a handful of grown men screaming with arms raised when Matt Watson pulled the midfield lever that sent Hamed Diallo racing through to goal in the 8th minute.
One of the interesting things about sports is the unquantifiable nature of much of it. No matter how much sportswriters and analysts try to fit the entirety of a game into a box score, there are always things that can't be measured. These things are often very important: They can comprise the "why" of winning and losing.
For instance, when North Carolina's defense went limp in the second half of an important game against conference rivals Virginia Tech Saturday, there was no easily discernible reason behind it.
Former Bulls pitcher David Price and outfielder Fernando Perez were named the Tampa Bay Rays' Minor League Players of the Year after last night's game at Tropicana Field. Perez went 1-for-3 during the Rays' 11-1 rout of the Twins.
Perez hit .288 in 129 games for the Bulls this season.
With the Rays, Perez is hitting .244 in 41 at bats: two home runs, four RBIs, two stolen bases and 10 strike outs.
Price started the season with Single-A Vero Beach, passed through AA Montgomery and pitched two games for the Bulls, going 1-1, before being recalled by the Rays.
In his minor league season, Price won 12 games, lost one, and logged a 2.30 ERA. The 23-year-old was also named MInor League Player of the Year by USA Today last week.
The Carolina RailHawks outlasted the Charleston Battery 2-1, behind two explosive first-half goals from Hamed Diallo. In a game that showed USL soccer to good advantage on national television, the Battery anwered with a goal in the 64th minute but couldn't equalize, despite a series of furious attacks.
While the ’Hawks accomplished what they had to do to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, tonight Atlanta managed to gain one of the three four points they need to clinch position themselves for the last playoff spot by battling first-place Puerto Rico to a 1-1 draw. This means that not only must the ’Hawks return to Cary Saturday and knock off the Portland Timbers, they must also root for Atlanta to lose to or tie last-place Miami. And, if that's not enough, Minnesota needs to do no better than a draw against Montreal tomorrow night.
So, three games to decide the final spot in the USL-1 playoffs. Even if the ’Hawks are still in it after tomorrow night's matches (Carolina against Portland and Minnesota versus Montreal), they'll still have to sweat it out through Sunday evening's Atlanta-Miami matchup.
On the bright side, the ’Hawks did win the Southern Derby—something achieved by getting the best of fellow Dixie squads Atlanta and Charleston over the course of the season. However, Charleston is headed to the playoffs, and Atlanta could, too, if they can knock off the lowly Miami side (and get help from Montreal).
In a final flurry of very ruffled feathers, the Cary-based Carolina RailHawks flap into a doubleheader against the Charleston Battery and Portland Timbers in USL-1’s final regular season weekend. The stakes are high, as anything less than six points will snare no better than an 8th-place finish for the sophomore ’Hawks. In addition to winning two in two, they only make the playoffs if Atlanta and Minnesota choke.
On the bright side, if they do manage this Sisyphean task, they will be in the playoffs, which is of uncertain benefit other than fashioning a mantle of Cinderella to be lugged about. On the confusing side, why are there only seven teams in the playoffs? The ’Hawks finished 8th last year and made the 'offs before being beaten soundly by Seattle.
It has been a rough year for the RailHawks who have struggled to find consistency, though they have been playing much better of late. The additions of players from Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico, Uruguay and Chile have begun to gel with those from Raleigh, California, Colorado, England, and Cote d’Ivoire (to name a few), scoring 21 goals in their last nine games. There is a core of young talent spiced with some graybeards in their early 30s, which bodes well for the future. This season, however, will look better in the Annals of American Soccer.
Before the avoidable, yet inevitable, 1-1 draw with Rochester last weekend, Scott Schweitzer pleaded for patience from the fans, and possibly the management. It was a pretty convincing plea, until with a 1-0 lead in the 82nd minute, an attacker was pulled off for a defender and in the 82nd minute it was 1-1. Even the staunchly supportive commentating crew were aghast at the decision which left the ‘Hawks scratching out a point when three were beak-bound.
Regardless of their chances of getting to the playoffs, I always recommend that people go to see the RailHawks play. They feature a great mix of international and home grown soccer talent in a comfortable, public transportation-free place to watch it. Almost like home, with all the niggling beauty of athletic reality. You might also want to see proof of the old Wall Street adage: Even if you don’t make it, they will come.
The RailHawks' Friday night match in Charleston will be televised nationally on Fox Soccer Channel at 8 p.m. Saturday, the ’Hawks return to Cary for their final regular season game, against Portland. That match kicks off at 7:30 p.m.
For the second time in two days, a Hurricanes core player will require surgery due to a preseason injury. After yesterday’s announcement that captain Rod Brind’Amour will miss most of the preseason after having surgery on his recently-repaired ACL, ’Canes GM Jim Rutherford announced that All-Star right winger Justin Williams tore his right Achilles tendon and could be out until 2009.
Williams tore his ACL in December of the 2007-2008 season, which, when coupled with Brind’Amour’s injury, left the ’Canes without two of their top scorers and penalty killers. Before the injury, Williams notched 9 goals and 21 assists in 36 games. He returned for one game late in the season, but left after a few shifts and didn’t play again.
After this blow, there’s a good chance Rutherford will be forced to sign another forward or make a trade. This leaves a gaping hole wide open for comeback kid Jeff O’Neill, who is with the team on a try-out basis, or Matt Murley, who signed with the team last week. Several farm team prospects are also in the running, but O’Neill seems to be the one who could best pick up the scoring that the ’Canes lost the moment Williams’ doctor gave his or her diagnosis.
There is also a slim chance that Williams himself could be traded; weirder things certainly have happened. Trade rumors swirled over the summer that Rutherford would dump Williams’ salary, but the Cole-Pitkanen trade made that a nonissue. However, with Williams injured for such a significant amount of time and the ’Canes desperately pursuing a return to the postseason, Rutherford may not want to wait. Williams scored 76 points in 2005-2006 and led the team in goals the following season, but two years is a long time to wait for a player in his prime. In addition, this is Williams’ third major injury: he tore his ACL and MCL while playing for Philadelphia in 2003.