TAMPA, Fla. (June 11, 2017) -- In an incredibly physical, rough match, the Tampa Bay Rowdies U23's were able to pull out a critical 5-3 win over the South Florida Surf on Sunday night.
Following a series of delays that moved what was originally a 5pm kick off back almost a full two hours, both teams came out with a lot of energy.
With that said, the Surf dominated the flow of play through the first 20 minutes of play and continued to apply pressure on the Rowdies defense.
That backline broke in the 21st minute due to an incredible run by South Florida's Darwin Espinal who fed a charging Andrew Booth. Espinal, ranked as the top prospect in the PDL, racked up yet another point on his PDL season before he was subbed out in the 30th minute.
After the 30th minute double substitution that removed Espinal, the Rowdies looked to capitalize and regain control of possession. Although they were successful in this venture, the U23's were not able to equalize before the halftime whistle.
Coming out of the halftime locker room, the Rowdies looked like an entirely new squad. Sending chances on net left and right, Tampa Bay was primed to strike for an equalizer yet nothing was quite being finished off.
That changed in the 66th minute when a volley by midfielder Daniel Ribas off a Kevin Varela feed opened up scoring for the U23's. It didn't take long for the Rowdies to follow up as Varela himself knocked in a second score just two minutes later to quickly shift momentum in the Rowdies favor.
Things seemed like they would stall out fatally after the Surf knotted up the game at two goals a piece in the 75th minute after catching the Rowdies goalie off guard.
In an incredible resilient fashion, the Rowdies shook this off and had an unbelievably dominant and action packed final 10 minutes.
Over this span of time, there was a total of four goals (3 from Rowdies players Gabriel Pfeffer, Trey Jackson, and Tosan Popo, and 1 from the Surf's Mvita) and two yellow cards (both on the Surf with one being a second yellow on Tristan Doran).
As a result of this onslaught of goals and cautions, the Rowdies were able to finish off the visiting Surf 5-3 and capture a critical three points. Sunday's win marks the end of a brutal three game losing streak for the U23's after two stoppage time losses and rough 8-3 loss on Thursday to The Villages.
Ending this losing streak should hopefully give the U23's a great deal of positive momentum as they continue their four game home stand with a rematch against the local rival Lakeland Tropics on Wednesday.
Surf: Andrew Booth - 21st Minute (assisted by Darwin Espinal)
Rowdies: Daniel Ribas - 66th minute (Assisted by Kevin Varela)
Rowdies: Kevin Varela - 68th minute (Assisted by Gabriel Pfeffer)
Surf: Ethan Decker - 75th minute
Rowdies: Gabriel Pfeffer - 80th minute (Assisted by Gonzalo Rodriguez)
Rowdies: Trey Jacson - 89th minute (Assisted by Tosan Popo)
Surf: Yann Mvita - 90th+ minute
Rowdies: Tosan Popo - 90th+ minute (Assist by Caleb George)
Surf: Yann Mvita - 14th Minute
Surf: Tristan Doran - 71st minute
Surf: Tristan Doran - 83rd minute (2nd Yellow)
Surf: Andrew Booth - 85th minute
Rowdies U23 XI (4-4-2): GK Chris Morrish; D Pico Espinal (Andrew Samuels 57'), Gabriel Pfeffer, Gustavo Fernandes, Jordan Day (Preston Kilwien 76'); M Daniel Ribas (Caleb George 84'), Gabriel Fernandes, Gonzalo Rodriguez, Mack Curran (Tosan Popo 65'); F Arion Sobers-Assue (Trey Jackson 57'), Kevin Varela (Morgan Hackworth 73')
South Florida Surf (4-3-3): GK Andres Ruiz; D James Morgan (Luiz Soupinski 46'), James Filerman (Tristan Doran 46'), Yann Mvita, Jean-Marc Alexander; M Jean-Baptiste Tamas-Leloup (Manuel Gonzalez 30'), Andrew Booth, Juan Gonzalez (Gabriel De Andrade 46'); F Darwin Espinal (Noah Pilato 30'), Ethan Decker, Jeff Michaud (Rory O'Keefe 90')
Tag(s): Rowdies U23 News