Rowdies Beat UT 3-0 For First Preseason Win
The Tampa Bay Rowdies earned their first win of the preseason Saturday night, topping the University of Tampa 3-0 at Pepin Stadium.
"Overall it was a very good 90 minutes from the players," head coach Ricky Hill said. "I think we approached the game in the right manner. Last week (against USF,) we were a week behind in terms of our physical capabilities. The players played to the right principles throughout the whole game and did some really nice things."
Midfielder Keith Savage staked the Rowdies to a lead inside five minutes off a cross from Evans Frimpong on the right wing. Savage's header hit the crossbar and ricocheted off the back of Spartans goalkeeper Norbert Bengyel and into the net.
The Rowdies dominated first-half possession with great combination play down the right wing between Anthony Wallace and Brian Shriver.
Hristov doubled Rowdies' lead in the 24th minute, deflecting a powerful Shane Hill shot from 30 yards out past Bengyel and into the net.
Hill made three substitutions at halftime and another six on the hour mark, but it didn't slow the Rowdies momentum.
"We try to share minutes as best we can," Hill said. "It was good that certain players got 60 in an effort to build toward playing 90 minutes in the first game of the season. It was a great exercise. Hopefully no one's got an injury tonight and that'll be another bonus for us."
Three minutes after entering the match, forward Devin Del Do scored his first goal of the preseason, showing excellent ball control to collect a cross from Jordan Gafa and beat two UT defenders before slotting home.
Hill praised his team's fluidity in changing formations and personnel on the fly.
"If we've got the ball, I don't mind people taking up different positions for the time being," Hill said. "I'd like them to play from their positions when they can, but in the normal flow of the game, I have no objections to them moving around. As long as we keep the ball well and execute well, I think it's great that anyone can pop up in any position. I saw (defender) Blake Wagner playing as a withdrawn striker in the second half and that's great, as long as we've got control of the ball.
Hill had 20 players play at least 30 minutes in the game, with only midfielders Evans Frimpong and Anthony Wallace playing the full 90 minutes.
Goalkeeper Ryan Thompson, playing against his alma mater, played the first 60 minutes before trialist Cody Mizell finished the clean sheet in net for the Rowdies.
"We've got to set targets for each other and I asked them how long they could maintain a clean sheet for," Hill said of his goalkeepers. "We've got to take that mentality into the season because clean sheets will give us an opportunity to win games. If we can keep as many clean sheets as we can, that will help us get in front in games and be difficult to beat."
Tampa Bay - Keith Savage - 3rd minute (Assisted Evans Frimpong)
Tampa Bay - Georgi Hristov - 24th minute (Assisted by Shane Hill)
Tampa Bay - Devin Del Do - 63rd minute (Assisted by Jordan Gafa)
GK Ryan Thompson (Cody Mizell 60'); D Frankie Sanfilippo (C) (Jamie McGuinness 60'), D J.P. Rodrigues (Willie Hunt 46'), D Takuya Yamada (Jay Needham 46'), D Blake Wagner (Jordan Gafa 60'); M Evans Frimpong, M Shane Hill (Kyle Clinton 60'), M Keith Savage (Darel Russell 60') , M Anthony Wallace; F Brian Shriver (Christophe Lallet 46'), F Georgi Hristov (Devin Del Do 60')
University of Tampa Spartans
GK Norbert Bengyel; D Andrew Clare, D Daniel Darkwa, D John Bentham, D Alex Knaggs; M Daniel Barboto, M Garett Garcia, M Nasyir Rodriguez, M Dominic Mondesir; F Dorado Phipps, F Craig Laird
The Rowdies will continue their 2014 Preseason next weekend on Saturday, March 15, when they take on Florida Gulf Coast University at Walter Fuller Park in St. Petersburg, Fla. The match will kick off at 7 p.m. ET and admission is free of charge.
With the 2014 Season just around the corner, fans can save money by purchasing single game tickets in advance by contacting the Rowdies’ front office at 877.ROWDIES (877.769.3437) or by clicking here .