More than 11,000 fans electrified Michael Carroll Stadium on Saturday with horns, drums and chants as the Indy Eleven took to the field for the team's season opener against the Carolina Rail Hawks.
The Brickyard Battalion supporters' network was in fine work, keeping a steady beat of encouragement throughout the game.
The Eleven earned the first North American Soccer League goal to be scored on their home turf when former Indiana University player Mike Ambersley received a dish from another I.U. alum, A.J. Corrado 43 minutes into the match.
The Rail Hawks equalized 5 minutes into the half. And, despite several promising attacks from both squads, the score remained 1-1 at the end of regulation. [Overtime halves and penalty kick tie-breaking options are only used in tournaments.]
Though Ambersley's goal has to be the play of the game because, hey, it's a goal, the NUVO sports desk would like to give a shout out to center mid Brad Ring. Ring played hard for all 90 minutes, but deserves the extra shout-out for hustling back to neutralize a significant Carolina threat.
Here's the play by play:
Head Coach Juergen Sommer took some time to answer questions after the match:
Q: Are you satisfied with the outcome?
"You want to win - to come out in your home opener and win. But again, we are building a new franchise. I think we need four or five games to get our real match fitness going. Some areas we went soft on for a few minutes, obviously, they scored the goal, but overall, I'm really pleased with what the players put on the field today - the character they showed and the fight. We were still creating chances late in the second game; young players that found themselves in situations where maybe they could have won the game for us. But that comes with experience, more real matches.
"We're so new. We need games, we need time on the field together to grow and develop. That will come as we go through the season, but I'm really pleased with the overall performance tonight.
Q: When you say "went soft," what could the team have done differently?
Sommer: Always the most dangerous time: the first five and last five minutes of every half ... going in with the lead, it'd be nice to hold on to that a little longer. But
give them credit. [The Rail Hawks] had one of the best records of the season overall in NASL. I thought we played well overall.
"[Overcoming that 5 minute challenge] comes with being a solid pro - preparing yourself to stay focused and realize that those are really critical times in a soccer times - it just comes with experience ...
"This hurts, right? You give a goal like that away early in the second half, it's very painful. That's how you learn sometimes. When it hurts the most, hopefully next time we make better decisions and don't put ourselves in that situation. With games it will help."