Tampa Bay Rowdies Win 2012 NASL Soccer Bowl After Penalty Shootout

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Tampa Bay Rowdies Win NASL 2012

The Tampa Bay Rowdies were crowned champions of the 2012 NASL Soccer Bowl after a thrilling shootout victory in front of a large crowd of 6,208 last night at Al Lang Stadium. Trailing 2-0 from the first leg last weekend the Rowdies took the field knowing they had to attack if they were to get anything from the game.  The opening exchanges surprisingly saw the Minnesota Stars on the offensive as they created a couple of half chances before Tampa managed to get a look at goal.

Slowly the Rowdies started to exert some influence and went close on a couple of occasions before former Wolverhampton Wanderers and Newcastle forward Carl Cort (pictured below) smashed home a dramatic first goal to set the game up. In the 25th minute midfielder Keith Savage found some space on the right hand side of the ten yard box and a neat ball saw Carl Cort hammer the ball into the back of the net for his second goal since his arrival at the Rowdies.

Carl Cort - Tampa Bay RowdiesCarl Cort - Tampa Bay RowdiesCarl Cort - Tampa Bay Rowdies

Moments later, Cort nearly added a second when he rose powerfully to head a corner towards goal but some desperate defending denied him his second goal of the match.

The game then ebbed and flowed until half time and the Rowdies went into the break knowing one more goal would level things up.

Keith Savage scores for Tampa Bay RowdiesKeith Savage scores for Tampa Bay Rowdies

They emerged in determined mood and a lax Stars defense allowed midfielder Keith Savage (pictured above) to make it 2-0 in the 51st minute, after being feed a through ball from defender Andres Arango. The aggregate score was now 2-2 and the excited crowd began to believe the dream was possible. That dream was soon shattered as just a minute later the Tampa defence allowed Minnesota’s midfielder Lucas Rodriguez (pictured below) all the time and space in the world to thump the ball home and restore the Stars lead 3-2 on aggregate score.

Lucas Rodriguez - Minnesota StarsMinnesota Stars FC fans

Chances came and went for Tampa as Cort hit a post and several others attempted shots that went wide but it was second-half substitute forward Daniel Antoniuk who became the next hero of the evening as he scored the crucial goal to level the series 3-3 in the 86th minute. Forward Mike Ambersley picked up the assist, as he put the ball past Stars goalkeeper Matt VanOekel and layed it off to Antoniuk who lifted the ball over Stars keeper Matt VanOekel for the goal.

Daniel Antoniuk - Tampa Bay RowdiesTampa Bay Rowdies supporters

The excitement was now building and you had to fancy Tampa to now win the game, if not in the 90 minutes but certainly in the 30 minutes of extra time. However, this is a Tampa side that doesn’t like to make things easy for themselves and a rash challenge by Rowdies midfielder Shane Hill saw him receive a red card in the 90th minute.

Shane Hill - Tampa Bay Rowdies Sent Off

The game went into extra time and although the Stars held the man advantage, they were unable to break down the Tampa defence. Th 2012 NASL Soccer Bowl would now be decided from the penalty spot. A time for hero’s and villains.

Jeff Attinella - Tampa Bay Rowdies Saves PenaltyJeff Attinella - Tampa Bay Rowdies

The hero for Tampa turned out to be recently voted NASL Best XI goalkeeper Jeff Attinella who pulled off some remarkable saves in the match and then saved three of the five Minnesota penalty kicks, earning the Rowdies their second franchise NASL Soccer Bowl amid frantic celebrations. A good night for Tampa!

Tampa Bay Rowdies Celebrate winning NASL 2012Ricky Hill - Tampa Bay Rowdies celebrates winning NASL 2012

Scoring Summary
Tampa Bay Rowdies: Carl Cort – 25th minute (assisted by Keith Savage)
Tampa Bay Rowdies: Keith Savage – 51st minute (assisted by Andres Arango)
Minnesota: Lucas Rodriguez – 52nd minute (assisted by Miguel Ibarra)
Tampa Bay: Daniel Antoniuk – 86th minute (assisted by Mike Ambersley)

Penalty Shootout
Tampa Bay (3): Mulholland (goal), Cox (goal), Picault (goal), Cort (saved)
Minnesota (2): Hlavaty (goal), Del Do (saved), Altman (saved), Bracalello (goal), Rodriguez (saved)

More photos at FloridaLeisurePhotography.com

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