And the streak goes on.
Jorge Herrera’s penalty kick in second half extra time earned the Charlotte Independence a 2-2 United Soccer League draw with the Wilmington Hammerheads on Saturday night at Ramblewood Soccer Complex.
The tie extended Charlotte’s unbeaten string to 11 games, in which it has compiled a 5-0-6 record.
But Independence coach Mike Jeffries said he wished his team had gotten more out of the match.
“We found a way to get something out of it, but it wasn’t our best effort tonight.” he said. “We still have our playoff destiny in our own hands, and we need to take advantage of every opportunity to get points.”
The Independence (9-6-10, 37 points) remained in a tie with Richmond – which played Rochester to a scoreless draw Saturday – for fifth in the Eastern Conference. The top six teams make the playoffs.
The night’s result certainly could have been worse, as the Hammerheads took a 2-1 lead on a goal in the 82nd minute by Qudus Lawai.
The Independence spent the rest of regulation time threatening to score. Wilmington goalkeeper Andre Rawls had to make several acrobatic saves, including a hard, sinking header by Caleb Calvert from point-blank range in the final minutes.
But Charlotte got a break when Calvert was knocked down in the 18-yard box a couple minutes into stoppage time. Herrera, who had played in only one match since being injured in warmups before the Independence’s last loss July 11 at Louisville, chipped a penalty kick over Rawls’ head for the game-winner.
“We’ve looked for opportunities to get him back in the lineup,” Jeffries said. “It’s good to have him back.”
After a scoreless first half punctuated by a combined four yellow card cautions on the two teams, Wilmington scored first in the 66th minute. Sunny Jane’s shot from about 12 yards out was deflected by Charlotte goalkeeper John Berner and trickled just inside the far post.
But the Independence got the equalizer seven minutes later. Enzo Martinez took a cross from Calvert and knocked in a hard shot from about 10 yards.
Jeffries said the unbeaten streak, the second-longest in the USL this season after Rochester 19-game unbeaten run, “isn’t something we talk about.”
“Since the midpoint of the season, we’ve realized that we need to get something out of each and every match we play,” he said.
NOTES: The Independence’s next match is at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Toronto FC. It’s Charlotte’s last regular-season home match.