Friday, April 20, 2018
Sports

Rowdies blank Carolina, control playoff fate

ST. PETERSBURG — An early goal from Richard Menjivar set the stage for a good hour-plus of nail-biting, but the Rowdies pulled off a necessary 1-0 victory over Carolina before 6,973 at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday.

And in news that was just as welcomed for the Rowdies, Fort Lauderdale lost 2-1 at Indy Eleven, meaning Tampa Bay controls its playoff fate with one game left in the NASL regular season. Tampa Bay (39 points) leads Fort Lauderdale by a point heading into the Rowdies' game next Saturday at New York.

But while Indy was holding onto what had been a 2-0 halftime lead, the Rowdies were sweating it out against Carolina.

"I'd like to say I was cool, calm and collected," Rowdies coach Stuart Campbell said. "It's nice to be able to win a game like that."

Combined with a handful of prime missed chances to put away the game, the Rowdies faced an opponent that refused to relent its offensive pressure. The nerviest of the moments came at 70 minutes when RailHawks 10-goal scorer Nacho Novo, with the Rowdies scrambling on defense, got the ball 10 yards from the goal but flubbed the shot.

A close second came 12 minutes later as sub Daniel Jackson got past the defense, but goalie Matt Pickens came up strong.

Central defenders Tam Mkandawire and Stefan Antonijevic stood tall as Carolina refused to make it an easy finish. And Ben Sweat, coming off all-league recognition last week, had a clutch sliding shot block as stoppage time began.

"Letting a team hang around is never good. But everyone was on the same page (defensively) tonight, the whole back four, and outside mids," said Sweat, a Palm Harbor native and former USF standout.

Georgi Hristov had three ripe opportunities, but moments after his first near-miss, Menjivar struck in the 12th minute. He gathered a loose ball from 35 yards away, took a touch and struck a low bouncer that snuck inside the left post.

Carolina dominated possession most of the first half and had three free kicks from inside 25 yards, but none produced a serious scare for Tampa Bay.

Sweat said Rowdies players were aware of the Strikers' result throughout the match.

"That's exactly what we needed," he said. "Finally some luck to go our way."

Fort Lauderdale is at Jacksonville next Saturday. The Strikers hold the tiebreaker, so if the Rowdies can't beat New York, they would need either Fort Lauderdale to lose or have both the Rowdies and Strikers tie.

Comments
Rays journal: Miller back from DL, KK surgery successful

Rays journal: Miller back from DL, KK surgery successful

ST. PETERSBURG — For a change, the physically snake-bitten Rays got some vigor, versatility and even a veteran presence back in their lineup  when INF Brad Miller was reinstated from the 10-day disabled list.To make room, they DFA'd INF/OF...
Updated: 5 minutes ago
Really, it’s time to look ahead

Really, it’s time to look ahead

BRANDON — Three things that popped into my head as the Lightning and Devils get ready to play Game 5 this afternoon at Amalie Arena.1. I’m going to do something that a hockey team in the playoffs would never do, not in a million years.I’m going to ta...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
LeBron James, Cavs show unity with coordinated suits

LeBron James, Cavs show unity with coordinated suits

The Cavaliers, with an assist from a New York-based designer, made their first big play Friday night just by entering the arena. As they paraded into Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis before Game 3 of their playoff series with the Pacers, the C...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sami Vatanen a big loss for Devils if he doesn’t play in Game 5

Sami Vatanen a big loss for Devils if he doesn’t play in Game 5

BRANDON – Devils top defenseman Sami Vatanen had not traveled to Tampa as of Friday afternoon, according to coach John Hynes, and his availability for Game 5 Saturday against the Lightning is in doubt.Hynes, however, did not rule out Vatan...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Plan to entice developers to help pay for Rays ballpark hits speed bump

Plan to entice developers to help pay for Rays ballpark hits speed bump

TAMPA — Private developers would bear much of the cost of a new Rays stadium in Ybor City under a plan Hillsborough County officials are putting together.Developers would benefit by cashing in on commercial, retail and other construction around a ne...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Racing schedules for 2018-19 parimutuel seasons released

OLDSMAR — Eight is not enough at Tampa Bay Downs, at least when the thoroughbred racing facility on Race Track Road opens its 93rd season July 1.The final card of what will be the Downs' sixth annual two-day Summer Festival of Racing will featu...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rowdies prepared to press on without defender David Najem

Rowdies prepared to press on without defender David Najem

SAINT PETERSBURG — When describing the loss of defender David Najem, Rowdies head coach Stuart Campbell and the player who will replace Najem chose the same word.Gutted.That settled over the Rowdies last weekend, one that was bad enough based o...
Updated: 3 hours ago
NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

TAMPA — The NFL draft is one big game of Liar's Poker. Deal me out.Even the guys with a seat at the table don't know when someone is bluffing.Bucs general manager Jason Licht knows that the team's No. 7 overall pick this year will be affected b...
Updated: 4 hours ago
For starters: Rays vs. Twins, 7:10 p.m.

For starters: Rays vs. Twins, 7:10 p.m.

Tonight's Rays lineup against the Twins. Brad Miller back in the lineup following his DL stint (left groin strain). First pitch at 7:10 p.m.LF Denard SpanDH C.J. CronRF Carlos Gomez1B Brad Miller3B Daniel Robertson2B Joey WendleC Wilson RamosCF Malle...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

BRANDON — Ryan McDonagh blocks shots. He competes for pucks in the corners and wins those battles. He moves the puck up ice well. He can join the rush. He can shoot from the blueline. He kills penalties."It was a great pickup by Steve (Yze...
Updated: 6 hours ago