ST. PETERSBURG — FC Tampa Bay coach Ricky Hill missed the team's previous two games after traveling to Jamaica to be with family after the death of his mother-in-law.
Fittingly, his son Shane Hill, who remained with the team, provided the winning goal in his father's return to the sideline Wednesday against FC Edmonton.
The 23-year-old midfielder from London scored in the 60th minute, tucking the rebound off a corner kick inside the far post, to break a 1-1 deadlock in front of 2,003 fans at Al Lang Field.
Pascal Millien added a late insurance goal in the 84th minute to finish off Tampa Bay's 3-1 defeat of Edmonton.
"I guess, in his mind, he's thinking that one's for Grandma and he wishes her a safe journey wherever she ends up," said Ricky Hill, who was gone nearly two weeks before returning to the Tampa Bay area late Tuesday. "I think for him that (goal) would be more of a tribute to her than it would be for himself, because that's the type of person he is."
The go-ahead score came with both teams trying to take control of an evenly played game. Millien sprinted down the left side and shot toward goal, forcing a save over the crossbar from Edmonton goalkeeper Rein Baart (eight stops). Aaron King got a shot off on the resulting corner that was knocked away by Baart. Hill found the loose ball and fired into the back of the net for his first score of the season.
"It meant a lot for the family," he said.
Tampa Bay (6-6-6, 24 points) got on the scoreboard in the sixth minute thanks to a display of speed and skill from Millien. The University of Tampa product took a long pass from the back and wheeled around his marker, using his quickness to blow past the defense. With King and Mike Ambersley making runs into the box, Millien crossed toward the far post, where King was able to latch onto the pass, resulting in his fifth goal in five games.
"I've got to give that all to Pascal," King said. "He beat his man up the left-hand side, saw me back post."
Edmonton (7-4-7, 25 points) equalized in the 28th minute after Tampa Bay goalie Jeff Attinella (seven saves) failed to corral a loose rebound near the goal line, and Edmonton's Alex Semenets shot past the out-of-position keeper.
After Tampa Bay regained the lead, Attinella protected it with a number of quality saves. He made a pair of diving stops in the 73rd minute off Edmonton corner kicks. Tampa Bay put the game away in the 84th minute when Millien gently tapped a pass from Ambersley past Baart.
With the win, Tampa Bay inches closer to securing a spot in the NASL postseason. The team has won three of its past five league games and has a 10-day break before an away match at Atlanta (Aug. 6), where it hopes to avenge a 2-1 loss to the Silverbacks on July 23.
"It's good to get back on track today. We needed a win," Shane Hill said.