The Rowdies and Carolina RailHawks played to a scoreless draw on Saturday night in the second game of this home-and-home series between both teams. The game at WakeMed Soccer Park was Tampa Bay's last game of the 2012 Regular Season. With the draw, the Rowdies finished the regular season in second place with 45 points, securing the First-Round bye into the NASL Semifinals.
Tampa Bay played without defender Andres Arango, who was suspended for tonight's match due to yellow card accumulation (received 5th yellow this past Wednesday night vs. Carolina). Both midfielder Luke Mulholland and forward Mike Ambersley did not travel for the game as they are each one yellow card away from suspension. With the end of the regular season, all card accumulation totals are reset to zero for the playoffs.
The Rowdies searched for the first goal early on, as forward Carl Cort had the first chance of the game in the fourth minute. Cort pressured the RailHawks defense and was able to come up with a steal, but on the breakaway he was unable to get the ball past Carolina’s goalkeeper Ray Burse.
In the eighth minute, Carolina midfielder Luke Sassano had a shot from just outside the box after a fast counterattack, but Rowdies goalkeeper Jeff Attinella was well positioned to come up with the save.
Defender Takuya Yamada was able to stretch out and volley a shot on goal in the 24th minute, but Burse dove to his right and came up with the save.
As the half ended, Attinella was called to action as he made a diving save on Carolina’s forward Matt Luzunaris. Attinella dove to his right and was able to get a hand on the ball, sending it out for a corner kick.
In the second half, the Rowdies started to implement their style of play. The clearest chance of the match came in the 66th minute, when midfielder Shane Hill beat his man on the edge of the box and took a shot but it went just over the bar.
Tampa Bay had back-to-back chances in the 79th minute, when midfielder Evans Frimpong powered a shot on goal but Burse made a great save sending the ball out for a corner kick. On the ensuing play, midfielder Raphael Cox fired a shot that was heading in, but Burse denied the Rowdies once again.
Carolina had the last chances of the match, with Rowdies defender Daniel Scott heading the ball out off the line in the 90th minute. On the next play, Carolina’s defender Justin Willis’ shot was saved by Attinella, who dove to his right to keep the score 0-0.
Tampa Bay is now unbeaten in their last six games and have lost two of the last 17 games, including nine wins. Attinella picked up his 11th shutout of the season and his 16th clean sheet of his career.
The first leg of the semifinals will be played the weekend of October 6, with the opponent and location to be determined. The Rowdies will then host the second leg of the NASL Semifinal on Saturday, October 13 at Al Lang Stadium.
Tampa Bay: Evans Frimpong - 68th minute
Tampa Bay: Shane Hill - 90th minute
GK Jeff Attinella, D Frankie Sanfilippo, D Daniel Scott, D Takuya Yamada, D JP Rodrigues, M Shane Hill, M Keith Savage, M Evans Frimpong, M Raphael Cox, F Carl Cort (Fafa Picault 45'), F Daniel Antoniuk
GK Ray Burse, D Cory Elenio, D John Krause, D Austen King, D Jamie Finch, M Luke Sassano (Justin Willis 86'), M Nick Millington, M Breiner Ortiz (Ty Shipalane 73'), M Austin Da Luz, F Brian Ackley (Amir Lowery 19'), F Matt Luzunaris
The Rowdies will host the second leg of the NASL Semifinal on Saturday, October 13 at Al Lang Stadium at 7:30 p.m. The first leg of the semifinals will be played the weekend of October 6, with the opponent and location to be determined.