Friday, April 27, 2018
Sports

Rowdies try to keep playoff hopes alive

ST. PETERSBURG — On Sunday, the Rowdies were a couple of stoppage-time minutes away from being eliminated in the NASL fall season title chase.

The New York Cosmos, needing a victory to wrap up the championship, took a 1-0 lead in the 78th minute against Edmonton and only had to hold off the Eddies to secure a spot in the Soccer Bowl.

With time winding down on Tampa Bay's title hopes, Edmonton threw the Rowdies a lifeline, scoring in the 90th minute to tie the score and prevent the Cosmos from winning the title in Week 12 of the 14-week season.

Now, as Tampa Bay travels to Edmonton on Sunday, the Rowdies have something to play for.

"That just shows the mentality of the group that they have (in Edmonton)," Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. "They haven't given up even though they're not contesting for the championship. I don't anticipate it'll be any different on Sunday."

To win the title outright, the Rowdies have to win both remaining matches against Edmonton and Minnesota United on Nov. 2 and hope the Cosmos lose at last-place San Antonio on Saturday and at Atlanta on Nov. 2.

Should the Cosmos lose one match and draw one while the Rowdies win their last two, both teams will finish atop the standings tied at 26 points. In that scenario, the Rowdies would earn the title based on a superior goal differential. Any victory by the Cosmos or Tampa Bay draw or loss over the final two matches eliminates the Rowdies.

Let it snow? Field conditions could become a major issue in Edmonton. Weather forecasts for Sunday predict temperatures in the mid 30s with a 60 percent chance of a rain/snow/sleet wintry mix. Combined with Clarke Stadium's unforgiving artificial turf, footing will be difficult.

"It will be slick, and it will be slippery, and it will take a definite amount of technical ability to try to play good football," Hill said. "That's why in practice I've been stressing the importance of ball retention and not giving the ball away cheaply, not turning it over because Edmonton has proven that they're a side that is difficult to break down."

Late-season switch: Following a 2-1 defeat at Fort Lauderdale, Hill altered the back line, shifting left back Andres Arango to center back and starting Raphael Cox at Arango's vacated position.

The result? Two victories in a row, one goal given up in those two matches and considerably less work for standout goalkeeper Diego Restrepo.

"We're a lot better in terms of our distances away from our goal area," Hill said. "We contest slightly more advanced than we had been doing previously, which is great because you don't get that anxiety, that nervousness around the box. … I don't remember anyone having a clear one-on-one through to Diego where he's had to make a world-class save. The change has solidified that for sure."

Comments
After first round, here are 10 names to watch for Bucs at No. 38

After first round, here are 10 names to watch for Bucs at No. 38

The first round of the NFL draft is complete, and the Bucs held off on trading back up, leaving them with three second-round picks Friday night.Their own pick is No. 38 — the sixth pick of the second round — and they added two more —...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Softball: Plant City perfect in district finals with Ashley Bullion on mound

Softball: Plant City perfect in district finals with Ashley Bullion on mound

PLANT CITY — Plant City softball coach Ashley Bullion is 4-for-4 after Thursday night.Four years at the helm, four district titles.The latest championship came in a 4-1 victory over East Bay in the Class 8A, District 6 final, a victory highligh...
Updated: 22 minutes ago

Softball: Recent momentum carries Mitchell past Sunlake

LAND O' LAKES — Despite being on the wrong end of two lopsided outcomes to Sunlake during the regular season, recent events gave Mitchell hope in its Class 7A-10 district final rematch with the Seahawks.Just two days prior, the Mustangs be...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Softball: Robinson makes it 10 straight wins vs. Jefferson

TAMPA — For the Robinson softball team, the perfect 10 was complete.The top-seeded Knights defeated No. 2 Jefferson for the 10th consecutive time Thursday and claimed their fifth district championship in a row, a 12-2 five-inning victory in the...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Softball: Itís April, so Chamberlain is winning

TAMPA — Coach Bob Diez and his Chamberlain Chiefs have always believed in this motto: "Be good in April."This is their season.The Chiefs added another Class 7A-8 district title Thursday against Gaither with a 7-0 victory.With the win, the ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Softball: East Lake is aggressive from the start

TARPON SPRINGS — If strong pitching and defense are the bellwethers of a deep playoff run, consider East Lake ready.Playing second seed Pinellas Park on Thursday night for the Class 8A-7 title, the host Eagles (22-3) used that philosophy to mak...
Updated: 1 hour ago
NFL draft: Chargers take FSUís Derwin James with No. 17 pick

NFL draft: Chargers take FSUís Derwin James with No. 17 pick

Former Florida State safety Derwin James fell farther than expected Thursday in the first night of the NFL draft before being chosen by the Chargers with the No. 17 overall pick.James became the fifth former Seminoles defensive back ever drafted in t...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
NFL draft: Patriots pick Lakewood alum Isaiah Wynn at No. 23

NFL draft: Patriots pick Lakewood alum Isaiah Wynn at No. 23

Lakewood High alumnus and former Georgia offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn was drafted No. 23 overall Thursday by the Patriots.Wynn becomes one of the highest drafted offensive linemen in Tampa Bay history and the first Pinellas County player to go in th...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Bucs trade down with Bills, take strongman DT Vita Vea No. 12

Bucs trade down with Bills, take strongman DT Vita Vea No. 12

TAMPA — Vita Vea loves to tell the story about the trip he took to French Polynesia with some University of Washington students and the group coming upon some enormous rocks."So over there, their strongman competition is they have a tradition w...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Another reason the Bucs took defensive tackle Vita Vea at No. 12

Another reason the Bucs took defensive tackle Vita Vea at No. 12

TAMPA — The selection of Vita Vea is a move the Bucs made for the present and the future. While Gerald McCoy remains a dominant defensive tackle, he turned 30 in February and is due to make $12.3 million this season and $13 million in...
Updated: 21 minutes ago