Stars FC take lead into finals' 2nd leg

  • Article by: DAVID LA VAQUE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 20, 2012 - 11:01 PM

Minnesota heads to Tampa Bay with a needed cushion, thanks to a strong showing by goalie Matt VanOekel.

Minnesota Stars FC goalkeeper Matt VanOekel enjoyed a memorable debut in the North American Soccer League finals.

The Stars grabbed a 2-0 lead against Tampa Bay in the first leg of the two-game, total goals series Saturday before an announced crowd of 4,642 spectators at the National Sports Center in Blaine.

They take a desired cushion into next Saturday's game at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, one VanOekel made possible with a strong first half.

A fast, fluid first half saw Minnesota muster few quality chances while the Rowdies peppered VanOekel with tough shots.

Mike Ambersley blasted a near-post shot, Keith Savage got most of a ball to VanOekel's left and followed up with a heavier shot a few minutes later.

"He smacked that ball," VanOekel said. "I'm glad I held onto that ball because I felt like I got a little bit of a late jump."

But no shots got through. The teams went to halftime scoreless.

"Matty has been huge all year long," forward Amani Walker said. "In my opinion, he's the best keeper in the league. He's big and quick and doesn't get beat easy."

Said VanOekel: "It was my first finals but it felt right -- everything was clicking."

Minnesota's best first-half chance came on Simone Bracalello's low shot in the 11th minute that forced Rowdies goalkeeper Jeff Attinella to dive for the ball. From there, the Stars shots were off the mark or lacking velocity.

The Stars turned up the pressure less than a minute into the second half as Bracalello, who scored to clinch the Stars' spot in the finals, fired a shot from close range that a sliding defender Daniel Scott knocked away.

It was Attinella's turn to make athletic saves in the 62nd minute as he dived to his right to stop Jamie Watson's initial chance and rebound.

The defending champion Stars' improved second-half offensive showing culminated with Walker's goal in the 67th minute, which he tucked under the crossbar from about 18 yards away. Bracalello picked up his third postseason assist on the play.

Bracalello later set the game's second goal in motion. His corner kick resulted in a scrum and a goal by Martin Nunez, who entered the game off the bench in the 77th minute. Nunez's goal three minutes into second-half stoppage time stunned the Rowdies.

But a two-game, total series means the first game, however uplifting, is only halftime. Tampa Bay only lost once at home in league play (7-1-7) this season.

"That second goal was absolutely enormous for us going down to Tampa, because they play extremely well at home," VanOekel said. "We know they are going to be coming after us the next 90 minutes."

  • NASL FINALS STARS FC 2, TAMPA BAY 0

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Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 0 1st Qtr 12:10
San Francisco 0
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 1st Prd 2:01
Nashville 0
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
UCLA 59 2nd Half 9:33
North Carolina 38
Marquette 7:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Long Beach State 4 1st Half 16:28
Western Mich 4
Stephen F Austin 8:00 PM
Prairie View
UAB 8:30 PM
Florida
Rice 8:30 PM
Mercer
San Jose St 10:00 PM
Washington
Washington St 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Baylor 10:59 PM
Memphis
LSU 0 2nd Qtr 7:45
Texas A&M 7
(6) TCU 13 2nd Qtr 8:22
Texas 0
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 73 FINAL
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 0 1st Half 20:00
Richmond 0
Oklahoma 3 1st Half 19:02
South Florida 2
Princeton 6 1st Half 16:31
Wake Forest 2
(19) Oregon State 8:00 PM
Butler

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