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.
Forward Mike Ambersley put the Rowdies up 1-0 in the 63rd minute after a great feed from midfielder Shane Hill, who picked up his third assist this season. Ambersley scored the Rowdies first playoff goal since their return in 2010, and his seventh goal this season.
Carolina’s equalizer came in the 78th minute, when forward Brian Shriver scored off a penalty kick.
Second half substitute forward Daniel Antoniuk gave the Rowdies the game-winning goal in the 85th minute. He headed the ball into the bottom left corner of the net, after a perfect cross by midfielder Evans Frimpong. Antoniuk now leads the team with eight goals this season, while Frimpong picked up his first assist since joining the Rowdies.
As the first half got underway, Carolina applied pressure on the Rowdies defense, having several shots in the first couple minutes.
Rowdies goalkeeper Jeff Attinella was called into action in the ninth minute. Shriver received a pass from midfielder 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.
The first half came to an end with the Rowdies trying to implement their style of play, controlling the possession of the ball.
Tampa Bay continued the momentum going into the second half, and scored the first goal of the night in the 63rd minute. Ambersley received a great through ball from Hill, and touched it past Carolina’s goalkeeper Ray Burse.
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 capitalized on it making it 1-1.
The Rowdies continued to press for the second goal of the night, and in the 85th minute Antoniuk scored with a beautiful header. Frimpong was able to get around his man on the right flank and curl a cross into Antoniuk, who made it 2-1.
The Rowdies will host the second leg of the NASL Semifinal on Saturday, October 13 at Al Lang Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available starting at $12. For more information and for discounted tickets, call our front office at 813.287.1539 or log on to RowdiesSoccer.com!
Tampa Bay - Mike Ambersley - 63rd minute (assisted by Shane Hill)
Carolina - Brian Shriver - 78th minute
Tampa Bay - Daniel Antoniuk - 85th minute (assisted by Evans Frimpong)
Tampa Bay: Andres Arango - 75th minute
Tampa Bay: Jeff Attinella - 83rd minute
Carolina: Amir Lowery - 86th minute
Carolina: Floyd Franks - 89th minute
Tampa Bay: Mike Ambersley - 90th minute
GK Jeff Attinella, D Frankie Sanfilippo, D JP Rodrigues, D Takuya Yamada, D Andres Arango, M Stuart Campbell, M Shane Hill, M Keith Savage (Evans Frimpong 82'), M Luke Mulholland, F Mike Ambersley, F Carl Cort (Daniel Antoniuk 70')
GK Ray Burse, D Jordan Graye (Cory Elenio 83'), D Sam Stockley, D Henry Kalungi, D Kupono Low, M Amir Lowery, M Floyd Franks, M Nick Zimmerman (Mike Palacio 73'), M Ty Shipalane, F Jason Garey (Matt Luzunaris 73'), F Brian Shriver