The Rowdies clinched the third seed in the NASL playoffs with a 2-0 victory over the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium in the regular season finale.
The Rowdies hosts its first-ever postseason match next Saturday, October 1 at Al Lang Stadium at 7:30 p.m. the Rowdies will face NSC Minnesota in a one-game single-elimination NASL quarterfinal. Fort Lauderdale will face FC Edmonton in the other quarterfinal. The winners of both matches advance to the NASL semifinals, which begin the following weekend.
"It was important for us to get three points tonight heading into the playoffs," said head coach Ricky Hill. "I think it was a great accomplishment to finish third in the standings, considering how we started as a new team, and the players throughout the season have worked very hard."
The Rowdies struck first when midfielder Keith Savage slotted home his fourth goal of the season off an assist from midfielder Shane Hill in the 68th minute. Hill sent a 20-yard cross from the right side to Savage, whose back was to the goal. Savage collected the pass, turned and fired to the right corner past Ft. Lauderdale goalkeeper Matt Glaeser.
"We were pressuring them prior to the goal and I was in the right place at the right time," said Savage. "We needed to be dominant right away following the red card. We had some good possessions, which led to the goal."
Ft. Lauderdale was forced to play a man down after defender Cristian Arrieta was sent off in the 51st minute following a hard tackle.
The Rowdies continued to dominate most of the passing game, solidifying the win with a late goal from forward Matt Clare. In second half injury time, Clare took a flick from forward Mike Ambersley and sent a low-curving shot into the back of the net off of Glaeser’s gloves.
Goalkeeper Jeff Attinella notched his fourth shutout of the year, and the team wrapped up the regular season with seven shutouts overall.
The two teams finished the first 45 minutes scoreless. The Rowdies had the best opportunity of the first half when midfielder Mozzi Gyorio's free kick from just outside the kick bounced off the left post in the 20th minute.
Rowdies Lineup: Attinella, Sanfilippo (Captain), Arango, Rodrigues, Yamada, Yoshitake (Millien 60'), Hill, Gyorio, Savage (Christie 80'), Ambersley, King (Clare 69') Ft. Lauderdale Strikers Lineup: Glaeser, Quiñones (West 69'), Laing, Arrieta, Lancaster, Morales (Gordon 55'), Paeckart, Palacio, Thompson - Captain (Santamaria 45'), Restrepo, Shriver
Rowdies: Keith Savage - 68th minute (assisted by Shane Hill)
Rowdies: Matt Clare - 90+ minute (assisted by Mike Ambersley)
The Rowdies lost to the Puerto Rico Islanders 1-0 Wednesday night at Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium in Bayamon. With the victory, the Islanders completed an unbeaten regular season at home, the only team in the league to do so this season.
The Rowdies will now face Ft. Lauderdale this Saturday, September 24 at Al Lang Stadium with the third seed in the NASL playoffs on the line. A win or tie by the Rowdies against the Strikers would clinch the third seed in the postseason, which opens on Saturday, October 1st at Al Lang at 7:30 p.m. in the NASL Quarterfinals.
"I would expect our boys to be up for the challenge on Saturday night against the Strikers," said Rowdies' head coach Ricky Hill. "We are frustrated and disappointed with the result tonight and would like to head into the playoffs on a winning frame of mind."
Puerto Rico took a 1-0 lead on a goal by forward Yaikel Perez in the fifth minute, his first of the year, off a nice feed down the left side from midfielder Kevon Villaroel.
Midfielder Shane Hill almost scored the equalizer, but his 35-yard strike hit the post in the 30th minute. Forward Mike Ambersley and midfielders Chad Burt, Mozzi Gyorio and Keith Savage also had scoring chances in the first 45 minutes for the Rowdies against Islanders goalkeeper Ray Burse, who made five saves in the first half.
Both teams had scoring opportunities in the second half but Burse and Rowdies' goalkeeper Jeff Attinella kept the ball out of the net. For the match, the Rowdies outshot the Islanders 18-12, led by Gyorio's four shots.
"It seems like a recurring theme when you consider the number of chances we had Saturday night against Minnesota," said Hill. "We did manage to carve out a few openings and get a few shots on target tonight. But it was disappointing to give up the goal early, which ended up being the game-winner."
The Rowdies made the trip to Puerto Rico without several starters, including captain and defender Frankie Sanfilippo, defender Andres Arango and midfielder Tsuyoshi Yoshitake.
Rowdies Lineup: Attinella, Hayes (Captain), Christie, Rodrigues, Yamada, Burt (Baptiste 87'), Gyorio, Hill, Savage (Millien 65'), Ambersley, King Puerto Rico Islanders Lineup: Burse, Rivera, Martinez, Emory, Jones, Pitchkolan (Captain), Van Schaik (Salem 53'), Wilson (Ramos 81'), Villaroel, Perez (Villegas 70'), Fana
Islanders: Yaikel Perez - 5th minute (assisted by Kevin Villaroel)
This edition of the KICK magazine covers the game against the Chicago Sting, played on the 15th July, 1983 at Soldier Field. The Rowdies lost the game 1-4,with the only goal scored by Mark Karpun. Attendance: 8,763.
The Rowdies team that day was: Stars, Myernick, Kozic, Nogly, Connell, Van Der Veen, Lund, Rojas, Karpun, Tatu, Baralic.
The Rowdies and NSC Minnesota played to a 1-1 draw at Al Lang Stadium Saturday night. With the tie and FC Edmonton's loss at Montreal, the Rowdies has clinched a home playoff game in the NASL quarterfinals. The Rowdies will host the playoff game on Saturday, October 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Al Lang Stadium.
"Tonight was an opportunity to gain three points and we are disappointed that we were not able to do so," said head coach Ricky Hill. "But we are excited to earn a home playoff game in the first round."
The Stars struck first in the 54th minute when forward Brian Cvilikas headed home a pass from Anthony Hamilton for his second goal of the year. The Rowdies answered just five minutes later as forward Mike Ambersley found forward Aaron King down the right side. King beat Warren with his low strike for his ninth goal of the year. Ambersley posted his team-high sixth assist on the goal.
"We were pressing and even at halftime, we felt like we were doing all of the right things," said King. "We just needed to remain patient. It's unfortunate that we didn't get the win, but we did get a point out of it and clinched the home game in the playoffs."
The Rowdies outshot the Stars 11-2 in the first 45 minutes, but NSC Minnesota goalkeeper Joe Warren made seven saves to keep the match scoreless at the half. For the match, The Rowdies held a 16-7 edge in shots. Goalkeeper Jeff Attinella helped earn the point for the Rowdies, saving another Cvilikas shot and keeping another by forward Luke Mulholland out of the net. A final Minnesota attempt to take the lead bounced off the right post and was cleared by the Rowdies' defense.
"We showed resilience as a team and good heart after we went down a goal," said Hill. "We kept working and Aaron King's goal was first-class."
A Rowdies related post, the Carolina Lightnin' are having a Reunion at Memorial Stadium, on October 15th, 2011. A number of former Rowdies will be attending. Including Rodney Marsh, David Power, Don Tobin and Steve Horne etc.
For more info please click on the "Carolina Lightnin' & Friends Reunion" heading above.