Saturday, February 24, 2018
Sports

Rowdies cap spring season with win over Fort Lauderdale

ST. PETERSBURG — Despite coming up short in their quest to win the NASL spring season, which would have ensured an opportunity to defend their 2012 league title in this year's Soccer Bowl, the Rowdies can take solace in going into a monthlong break between seasons on a two-game winning streak.

And they continue to confound cross-state rival Fort Lauderdale.

The Rowdies scored twice in each half, outclassing the Strikers 4-0 — the fourth-straight victory over their nemesis from South Florida — in front of a spirited Al Lang Stadium crowd of 5,034 on Thursday night. It was the largest home crowd of the season despite a 23-minute delay at the start of the game to remove water from the saturated pitch and a brief downpour between halves.

Since 2011, Tampa Bay is 8-1-1 against Fort Lauderdale and has outscored the Strikers 25-9.

"For some reason, the ball bounces our way (against the Strikers). … It's great," Rowdies midfielder Keith Savage said. "I hope we can continue to be the better team in the state."

Savage scored both of the first-half goals to power the Rowdies (5-4-3, 18 points) to their first league victory at home this season after going in with a 0-3-2 mark. In the 20th minute, Georgi Hristov sent a through ball toward the goal that Savage tracked down and buried into the far corner from 6 yards away.

On a corner kick 12 minutes later, Rowdies defenders Jay Needham and Frankie Sanfilippo, along with Fort Lauderdale goalkeeper Matt Glaeser, converged on the same spot to challenge for Luke Mulholland's cross. Glaeser deflected the ball but was upended in the process. Savage, lurking in the middle of the box, looped a header over Glaeser and into the goal for his third score this season.

"I don't know how it went in," Savage said. "It was a miracle, but I'll take it."

Needham scored seven minutes into the second half to end any thoughts of a second-half rally for a struggling Fort Lauderdale (2-8-2, 8 points) side. Mulholland's corner kick traveled into the middle of the box, and Needham timed his jump to head the ball into the far corner to make it 3-0.

Mike Ambersley got on the score sheet for the second game in a row to cap the Rowdies' scoring. Hristov sprung Ambersley on a breakaway one-on-one with Glaeser. Amberlsey took a couple of dribbles and slotted his shot past the outstretched goalie.

"You don't want to go into the second half of the season having not won a (league) home game," Ambersley said. "That's when doubt starts creeping into your mind."

Rowdies goalkeeper Diego Restrepo stopped eight shots to earn his third shutout in all competitions this year.

"He's showed in practice that he feels himself getting to that place he wants to be, getting to where he feels he can be at his best, and it shows on the field," Savage said. "The shutout was huge for him."

The Rowdies have a month off before the NASL fall season, which starts Aug. 3 at San Antonio. "We've had two wins in a row," coach Ricky Hill said. "It's a shame the break is coming now in respect that everyone starts from scratch at zero (points). We've shown now where our standards can be and where we can improve on the standards we've set recently."

Comments
Northeast High alumnus Jon Mott wins 3rd Gasparilla 15K crown

Northeast High alumnus Jon Mott wins 3rd Gasparilla 15K crown

Roughly 20 minutes into Saturday morning's Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K, reigning champ A.J. Richmond glanced over his left shoulder to former college teammate Jon Mott and flashed a quick hand signal."He was telling me that the two guys in...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
For starters: Back to back starts for Duffy as Rays face Red Sox, 1:05

For starters: Back to back starts for Duffy as Rays face Red Sox, 1:05

3B Matt Duffy came into camp saying he felt really good and his left foot troubles, that kept him out all of 2017, were behind him.The Rays are giving him the chance to show that right away in the exhibition season with back to back starts as they fa...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The truth about the Tampa Bay Rays’ reset

The truth about the Tampa Bay Rays’ reset

The Tampa Bay Rays are not going to be very good this year.We already knew that.They have gutted a team that won 80 games last season. Among those sent packing: Evan Longoria, Corey Dickerson, Jake Odorizzi and team MVP Steven Souza Jr.Yeah, this thi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays spring training info: Saturday at Red Sox, 1:05

Rays spring training info: Saturday at Red Sox, 1:05

Rays Saturday scheduleAt Red Sox1:05, JetBlue Park, 11500 Fenway South Drive, Fort MyersPitchers: Rays – RH Jake Faria, RH Matt Andriese, RH Dustin McGowan, LH Ryan Yarbrough, RF Chaz Roe, LH Jose Alvarado, RH Evan Scribner, RH Jose Mujica; Red...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Marlins treat Stoneman Douglas players to an afternoon of baseball

Marlins treat Stoneman Douglas players to an afternoon of baseball

BY CLARK SPENCERMiami HeraldJUPITER – A player for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School baseball team politely asked Marlins outfielder Monte Harrison if he would mind giving him a bat as a souvenir."Not only will I give you one of my bats,...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Aaron Boone gets a new view, win in spring training debut

Aaron Boone gets a new view, win in spring training debut

TAMPA  — Aaron Boone walked to home plate for his first game as a manager at any level and was greeted by Detroit's Ron Gardenhire, a 60-year-old baseball lifer back in charge of a big-league team for the first time in four years."I told h...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Live blog: 2018 Gasparilla Distance Classic

Live blog: 2018 Gasparilla Distance Classic

The Tampa Bay Times will be there for every step of this year's Gasparilla Distance Classic. Whether you'll be walking, skipping, jogging or sprinting across the 5K, 8K, 15K or half-marathon finish, join us by using #gasparillarun.(function(d, s, id)...
Published: 02/24/18
Impact of Tommy John surgery cuts deeply for Brent Honeywell, Rays

Impact of Tommy John surgery cuts deeply for Brent Honeywell, Rays

PORT CHARLOTTE – Two things that tell you a lot about Rays cocksure top prospect Brent Honeywell given Friday's crushing news that he indeed tore a ligament in his prized right arm and is headed for Tommy John surgery that will sideline him wel...
Updated: 10 hours ago
NHL trade deadline: Action picks up with three-team deal

NHL trade deadline: Action picks up with three-team deal

RALEIGH, N.C. — The  Penguins acquired center Derick Brassard from the Senators on Friday night in a three-team deal that sent defenseman Ian Cole to Ottawa and forward Ryan Reaves to the Golden Knights.The Penguins announced the deal...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Rasmus says he ditched Rays to spend time with family

Rasmus says he ditched Rays to spend time with family

SARASOTA — Colby Rasmus is making a new start with the Baltimore Orioles after taking an eight-month break from baseball.Rasmus signed a minor-league contract with the Orioles this week, after abruptly leaving the Rays in midseason. The contrac...
Updated: 10 hours ago