Rowdies’ season ends with semifinal defeat

by Gary Shelton on October 29, 2017 · 0 comments

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Hristov scored the Rowdies' only goal.

Hristov scored the Rowdies' only goal.

Sunday, 2:30 a.m.

A season ended for the Tampa Bay Rowdies Saturday night.

The cause of death? An inabilty to score on New York Bulls' goaltender Evan Louro.

The Rowdies fell 2-1 in extra time to the Bulls in the Eastern Conference semifinal. The Bulls were the seventh-seeded team in the USL playoffs going in.

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Tampa Bay launched 23 shots at Louro, but were able to get only one ball past him – an early-game shot by Georgi Hristov.

"I’m obviously really disappointed with the end result,” Rowdies Coach Stuart Campbell said. “I thought we played great with the amount of chances we created. Their goalkeeper made some unbelievable saves, we hit the woodwork a couple of times and had one cleared off the line. I’m disappointed that we didn’t get the win that I think we deserved.”

Stefano Bonomo scored his second goal of the night three minutes into extra time for the win.

The Rowdies had chances in the 87th minute, when Michael Nanchoff had a shot saved at point-blank range, and the 88th, when Guenzatti fired a volley that required an epic diving save from Louro to deny it.

In the 106th minute, Paterson put a header past Louro and on frame only for Red Bulls forward Junior Flemmings to clear it off the line and deny the Rowdies an equalizer.

Paterson had two more chances in the 109th and 113th minutes, but neither was on target.

Guenzatti nearly tied it for the Rowdies with a shot from 23 yards, but it sailed just inches over the crossbar and out of play.

Paterson had a shot on target denied by Louro’s sixth save of the night in the 120th minute and Rowdies defender Hunter Gorskie put a shot onto the crossbar in the final seconds, but the Rowdies never managed to score the goal to force penalties.

"We look back on the amount of chances that we created and we missed chances not through poor finishing,” Campbell said. “You’ve got to give their goalkeeper credit. I think he had an unbelievable night. He had three or four world class saves tonight.”

The end came suddenly for Rowdies' forward Joe Cole.

“I felt we deserved at least to take it to penalties,” Rowdies Captain Joe Cole said. “Performance-wise, we deserved (to win,) but we could have played better. At the moment, it’s disappointing. We might look back and see progress from the season before, but at the moment, it’s just disappointment because we lost a game of football and the season is over.”

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