By FRANCO PANIZO
NSC Minnesota Stars picked a good time to get its first win over the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers.
After going winless in four regular season games against the team from South Florida, Minnesota defeated the Strikers in front of 4,511 fans at home in NSC Stadium in the first leg of the NASL Championship Series. 3-1. The second leg will be played on Oct. 29 at Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale at 7:30pm.
Luke Mulholland scored the winner for the Stars a minute after an own goal had pulled the Strikers level. Lucas Rodriguez put the game away with an insurance goal that came off a low shot from about 15 yards out.
Ft. Lauderdale had no response to either second half goal, as its attack sputtered with few clear chances created despite sharing a good portion of the possession.
The Strikers weren't even able to knock the ball into the back of the net against the team it outscored 6-2 in the regular season. Having fallen behind in the fourth minute to a free kick strike from Neil Hiavaty, Ft. Lauderdale equalized in the 52nd minute off an own goal from Justin Davis. Strikers defender Lance Laing sent an unthreatening cross into the area, but Davis chested it past goalkeeper Joe Warren under little pressure.
The celebration for the Strikers didn't last long, as Minnesota reclaimed the lead a minute later when Mulholland hit a shot past Matt Glaeser following a turnover in their own half.
The Stars put the game away 13 minutes from time when Rodriguez took advantage of slack marking and dribbled into Ft. Lauderdale's area before hitting a shot that snuck inside the near post.
What did you think of Minnesota's 3-1 win? Think the Strikers will turn it around?
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