The Tampa Bay Rowdies defeated Carolina 2-1 in the first leg of the NASL Semifinals on Saturday night at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC. The Rowdies are now unbeaten in their last seven matches, and have given up only three goals during that stretch. Caroolina had its five game unbeaten streak snapped with the loss.
Rowdies goalkeeper Jeff Attinella was called into action in the ninth minute. RailHawks forward Brian Shriver received a pass from Ty Shipalane and took a shot on goal, but Attinella easily contained his strike.
Tampa Bay forward Carl Cort had the first chance for the Rowdies in the 12th minute, but his shot from outside the 18-yard box went wide left.
In the 14th minute, Attinella once again came up big for the Rowdies. Shipalane entered the 18-yard box one-on-one, but he was unable to beat Attinella who came up with a huge save to keep the game 0-0.
After not being able to contain the possession of the ball in the first 20 minutes, the Rowdies finally began to control the rhythm of the match. Tampa Bay’s midfielder Luke Mulholland was unable to culminate a great team effort, as he was unable to get a shot off as he entered the box in the 25th minute.
After a scoreless first half where both teams had chances, Tampa Bay opened the scoring in minute 63. Forward Mike Ambersley put the Rowdies up 1-0 after a great feed from midfielder Shane Hill.
Defender Frankie Sanfilippo made a great defensive play in the 67th minute as he stretched out and blocked Shriver’s shot from inside the 6-yard box. Attinella was able to contain the shot, as it was about to trickle over the goal line.
The RailHawks leveled the score in the 78th minute, after they were awarded a penalty kick and Shriver converted it, equalizing the score at 1-1.
Second half substitute forward Daniel Antoniuk gave the Rowdies the game-winning goal in the 85th minute. Antoniuk headed the ball into the bottom left corner of the net, after a perfect cross by midfielder Evans Frimpong.
“Tonight we played a good game, but didn’t finish our chances,” said Carolina Head Coach Colin Clarke. “We dominated much of the game, passed the ball well, created chances, but we didn’t finish and that costs us the game. We still have 90 minutes and we are going to work on finishing up our chances.”
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