The Rowdies returned to practice Tuesday morning with a two-hour training session at Shimberg Fields, preparing for the semifinal matchup on October 6th.
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. On Saturday, Goalkeeper Jeff Attinella picked up his 11th shutout of the season and 16th clean sheet of his career in Carolina, earning him the NASL Defensive Player of the Week award.
“Both games against Carolina were tough,” said head coach Ricky Hill. “With three games in a span of a week, the bye is crucial for our players as they can rest and take their mind off of the game for a couple of days. Whoever we play in the semifinals will be an intense matchup and I told the players that we have to focus in training from now until gameday if we want to make it to the final.”
Hill commented on how important it is for the squad to regroup mentally and physically during the First-Round bye.
“We plan on giving the players an adequate amount of time off this week,” said Hill. “This will in turn keep the players in rhythm, especially since they don’t play a game on Saturday. We want to give the players this week to get their heads away from football, and starting next Monday we will intensify the training sessions in preparation to the match on October 6.”
The Rowdies will play the first leg of the NASL Semifinals 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.