The Tampa Bay Rowdies were crowned champions of the 2012 NASL Soccer Bowl after a thrilling shootout victory in front of a sellout crowd of 6,208 on Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium. The 3-1 second-leg match erased the Stars’ two-goal lead after the first leg, with the aggregate score totaling 3-3 after the end of regulation. After a scoreless extra time, the game was decided in penalty kicks. NASL Best XI GK Jeff Attinella had made six saves in the match, and added three spectacular saves in penalty kicks, lifting the Rowdies to their 2012 NASL Soccer Bowl Championship.
The Rowdies scored 25 minutes into the game, as midfielder Keith Savage was able to slot the ball into the box to forward Carl Cort. The forward smashed the ball into the back of the net for his second goal since his late season arrival to the Rowdies.
Savage scored the Rowdies second goal of the evening in the 51st minute, after a feed from defender Andres Arango. The aggregate score was 2-2, but within the next minute Minnesota’s midfielder Lucas Rodriguez would score the Stars’ lone goal of the night while putting them back ahead with a 3-2 aggregate score.
Second-half substitute forward Daniel Antoniuk scored the crucial goal in the 86th minute, making the score 3-1, leveling the aggregate score. Forward Mike Ambersley picked up the assist, as he put the ball past Stars goalkeeper Matt VanOekel and laid it off to Antoniuk for the goal.
With the 3-3 aggregate score, the Rowdies went into extra time a man down as midfielder Shane Hill was sent off in the 90th minute. In the 30 minutes of extra time both teams were unable to score the winning goal, and the 2012 NASL Soccer Bowl Finals would be decided in penalty kicks.
Attinella saved three of the five Minnesota penalty kicks, earning the Rowdies their second franchise NASL Soccer Bowl Championship. The Rowdies were crowned NASL Soccer Bowl Champions for the first time back in 1975 after a 2-0 victory over the Portland Timbers.