By TRAVIS CLARK
The Carolina Railhawks became the latest USSF Division 2 to officially secure a playoff spot over the weekend.
With only a handful of games remaining in second division play, Carolina's 4-2 win over struggling Crystal Palace locked up the fifth playoff spot in postseason play. The Railhawks jumped out to a 3-0 lead, scoring three goals in the game's first 15 minutes to pin Baltimore back.
But the home side struck back in a ten-minute stretch in the second half through Shaun Pejic and Alan Sanchez, before loanee Tom Heinemann's goal in the 65th minute sealed the three points for Carolina.
Here's a look at the rest of this weekend's D-2 action:
STARS EARN MASSIVE WIN AGAINST VANCOUVER
Playoff soccer is drawing closer and closer to Minnesota, as the Stars picked up three vital points thanks to a 1-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps. In what was just Vancouver's fourth loss of the season, a Devin Del Do goal in the second half was enough for the Stars, finally besting the league's top defense. Minnesota has gotten hot at just the right time, winning a third straight game that has them in pole position for a playoff spot.
IMPACT ROLL PAST ROWDIES
Over the long summer months, the Tampa Bay Rowdies have failed to win when they needed to. This trend continued over the weekend, as the Montreal Impact routed the Rowdies 3-0. Ali Gerba's sensational play for the Impact carried over to this week, as the former Toronto FC forward added two more goals to his tally, taking him to nine on the season — in just 11 games played. With the loss, Tampa's slim playoff hopes are officially dead — they only have two games left and are seven points behind Puerto Rico in the standings.
MIAMI SHOCKS ROCHESTER
The surprise result of the weekend came in the form of Miami FC's 2-1 win in Rochester over the league-leading Rhinos. Anthony Hamilton's 10th minute goal put the home side on the board, but Miami came back thanks to Abe Thompson. The former FC Dallas striker set up Danilio Martins' response in the 13th minute, and Thompson scored the eventual winner just over 10 minutes later.
AUSTIN FALLS IN ST. LOUIS
Luis Gil's first professional goal turned out to be an important one, as the 16-year-old netted in stoppage time to send A.C. St. Louis past visiting Austin by a 2-1 score. The goal came minutes after a 91st minute equalizer by Aztex striker Eddie Johnson — his 14th of the season — looked to give Austin a last-second point, and knock St. Louis out of the playoff hunt.
PORTLAND WIN OVER PUERTO RICO
For once, someone other than Ryan Pore got the goal for Portland. It was recent acquisition Kalif Alhassan, in his first start for the Timbers, popping up in stoppage time as the Timbers defeated Puerto Rico 1-0 on the road. Alhassan chipped Islanders 'keeper Bill Gaudette giving Portland a chance to hunt down Rochester and Austin in the USL Conference.