CARY, N.C. — The Tampa Bay Rowdies won the first leg of their two-game NASL semifinal series Saturday night, defeating Carolina 2-1 on goals by Mike Ambersley and Daniel Antoniuk.
Antoniuk's header with five minutes to go in regulation time sealed the victory for the No. 2 seed Rowdies, who need only a tie in this Saturday's home rematch to reach the NASL final for the first time since the franchise was re-formed in 2010.
Antoniuk, who led the Rowdies in the regular season with seven goals, got space in the 18-yard box and powered a cross from substitute Evans Frimpong from the right side past RailHawks goalkeeper Ray Burse.
Carolina had tied it in the 78th minute on Brian Shriver's penalty kick.
Tampa Bay's first goal came from Ambersley's low drive to the right post that slid under Burse. Shane Hill got the assist. Ambersley had six goals and a season-high eight assists in the regular season.
In the 67th minute, Rowdies defender Frankie Sanfilippo got a piece of Shriver's shot from inside the 6-yard box. Tampa Bay keeper Jeff Attinella, who had been out of the goal, dived right to stop the shot from trickling in.
Tickets for Saturday's semifinal game, which starts at 7:30 at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, are on sale starting at $12. See RowdiesSoccer.com or call (813) 287-1539 for information.