Ringing in the new year with college, pro sports

mblake@newsobserver.comDecember 30, 2013 


Tiyi Shipalane, seen here celebrating the winning goal against the Los Angeles Galaxy in the 2012 U.S. Open Cup, will return to the RailHawks.

TRAVIS LONG — News & Observer 2011 File Photo Buy Photo

Whether it’s college or pro sports, much is planned for western Wake County this year.

Carolina RailHawks: The Carolina RailHawks’ eighth season will begin April 12, with the first North American Soccer League home match on April 19. The NASL will not compete with the Wold Cup this year, which means its split-season format is more quirky than before.

The spring season will have just nine games, with all 10 teams playing each other once. The RailHawks were on the short end of the deal, one of five teams that must play four at home and five on the road. The spring season will end June 7, with the winner earning the right to host the NASL Soccer Bowl following the fall season, which will be 18 games and end in November.

Carolina is unbeaten in its last 16 home matches.

In addition to potential U.S. Open Cup matches, the RailHawks plan to host an exhibition match against first-division Mexican team Puebla FC. Puebla was scheduled to visit WakeMed Soccer Park last year, but a volcanic eruption canceled the team’s flight.

The RailHawks have not made many personnel announcements for next year, but fan favorite Tiyi Shipalane is among those who have been re-signed.

NCAA championship: The town of Cary was awarded six future NCAA national championships with one slated for this year: the 2014 Men’s Soccer College Cup at WakeMed Soccer Park.

Cary will also host the 2015 Women’s Soccer College Cup, the Division II Baseball championships at USA Baseball National Training Complex from 2016-18 and the 2017 Division III Men’s and Women’s Tennis at Cary Tennis Park.

Cary Invasion: The minor league basketball team returns for its fourth season with familiar faces on the roster and a much longer season to see them. The Invasion are 35-6 in three seasons with one championship and two runner-up finishes.

This year, the Tobacco Road Basketball League will have games starting with the season finale in late May. Last year’s season went from March to June.

The Invasion are also holding a pre-game kids camp for ages 5-8 before six of the home games this year, including the home contest on Jan. 18. All games are at the Herb C. Young Center in downtown Cary.

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