The Fort Lauderdale Strikers extended their unbeaten streak to four games, and Fafa Picault scored for the 12th time this season as the visiting Strikers tied the Atlanta Silverbacks 2-2 on Saturday night. The Strikers had the opportunity to take all three points in the match, but gave up an own goal in the 89th minute. The Strikers next take on the Carolina Railhawks in Cary, North Carolina, in a match which may determine who takes the final spot in the North American Soccer League playoffs.
The Strikers created several chances in the first half. Aly Hassan, who started the match at forward alongside Picault, had several opportunities in the half, scoring his second goal of the season on a header that went over the Silverbacks’ goalkeeper Eric Ati and into the net. The assist on the play came from Shawn Chin, his third assist in two games. Hassan had four shots in the half, including one that hit the cross bar in the 13th minute of the match.
Playing their third match in seven days may have caught up to the Strikers in the second half as Atlanta was the more aggressive team and controlled the ball for most of the final 45 minutes.
The Strikers defenders were caught flatfooted in the 47th minute and Junior Sandoval saw and took the opportunity from about 25 yards to tie the match 1-1.
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With time starting to get short, the Strikers brought in Jenison Brito for Hassan. In the 79th minute Brito made a great run up the field and beat two Silverbacks defenders to the top of the box, and taking the shot on Ati. The goalkeeper was able to deflect the ball wide, but Picault found the rebound and put it in the back of the net, giving the Strikers the 2-1 lead with 11 minutes left to play.
The Silverbacks didn’t give up and continued to press, and with just one minute left in regulation Strikers defender Rafael Alves attempted to clear the ball off a Silverbacks shot, but instead put it in the back of his own net.
▪ Barry 3, Tampa 1: The ninth-ranked Barry Buccaneers knocked off the Tampa Spartans at Buccaneer Field. Tamara Vuckovich had a goal and an assist to lead the Bucs to victory.
The Bucs (7-1-1, 4-0-0 Sunshine State) staked their claim to first place in the conference after co-leader Saint Leo lost 4-1 to Rollins on Saturday.
Amber Smith put the Bucs on top in the 17th minute. Vuckovich made a perfect pass to the far post on a corner kick, and Smith was waiting on the far side of the scrum in the box to head in the goal.
In the 42nd minute, Jojo Frigerio scored on a header as well, this time off a free kick from Ashley Harlan.
The Spartans (8-2-2, 2-2-0 SSC) trimmed the lead to one in the 49th minute. Cici Gonzalez scored on a nearly identical play to Frigerio.
In the 80th minute, Vuckovich put the game out of reach by converting a penalty kick after Madison Cox was whistled for a handball in the box.
▪ Tampa 1, Barry 0: On a night when both sides fought a tough, physical game, the University of Tampa edged Barry at Buccaneer Field.
The Bucs outshot the Spartans 17-11, forced Tampa’s goalkeeper Zak Downes to make a majority of the saves and had the ball hit the post after a perfect shot from Leonel Awokang in the 68th minute. They just couldn’t score.
Barry’s defense kept its composure for most of the game but in the 73rd minute a breakdown allowed Tampa’s Monty Berrow to score the game’s lone goal.
Barry University’s Linda Fritschken and Emma Onila beat Tyler (Texas) Junior College’s Joanna Savva and Paige Murdock, 6-0, 6-4, in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Super Bowl Championships at Sumter, South Carolina.
▪ Tampa d. Barry 25-17-25-15, 25-8: Barry University’s volleyball team ran into a buzzsaw against No. 1 Tampa.
It was the first time the Buccaneers (10-8, 3-5 Sunshine State Conference) met the Spartans (15-1, 8-0) when they were ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division II since Oct. 12, 2007.